Have you noticed any changes to your hearing? Do your loved ones complain you’re turning up the volume on the television way too high, or do you ask them to repeat themselves too often? Do you often miss the telephone’s ringing? Do you have trouble following conversations, particularly when you’re in a noisy location?
If any of this sounds familiar, you’re probably losing your hearing, and it’s time to acknowledge your hearing loss.
On average, from the time they notice a decline in their hearing to the time they complete a hearing assessment, Americans have already sat on their hearing loss for an average of seven years. And the reluctance doesn’t always vanish once a person is screened and diagnosed with a hearing loss. Some patients wait years after the initial examination before seeking hearing treatment. But having your hearing loss treated is incredibly necessary.
Getting treated early makes a difference.
The earlier hearing loss is noticed and managed, the better you respond to treatment. As a hearing loss occurs, our brain circuitry is gradually altered, and our cognition is affected.
The way we perceive sound happens primarily in the inner ear, where delicate hair cells are programmed to sense specific sound frequencies and transmit signals to the brain’s auditory cortex for analysis when stimulated. Damage to hair cells leads to irreversible hearing loss – once injured, the hair cells have no way of restoring or replacing themselves.
When we lose our full sound processing capacity, our brain receives only partial knowledge about the nature of a sound. This, in turn, extracts cognitive energy from other areas of the brain, while our auditory cortex works to put together speech and meaning from fragments.
Over time, unaddressed hearing difficulties ultimately rewrite our mind’s methods of processing sound. As the auditory pathways shift to compensate for hearing loss, neural pathways once used for healthy hearing erode and other brain functions are repurposed.
This means that the more prolonged hearing loss stays unaddressed, the further it becomes from our “normal” way of hearing as the brain becomes more reliant on methods to function around missing auditory information. The fewer changes we allow to occur with our ears, the easier it is to assimilate the treatment of hearing loss into our lives.
Recognize the reality of your hearing loss today
Many with chronic hearing loss have a poor quality of life, struggle with relationships, and are often socially withdrawn and lonely. Their personal lives suffer, but they may encounter negative consequences at work too. A recent study found that those with hearing loss earned less than their colleagues, were overlooked for promotions, and were at a higher risk of being let go.
Hearing aids make all the difference
After you have acknowledged your hearing loss, the next step is to invest in hearing aids and manage your hearing loss. You’ll be surprised by how hearing technology has improved in the last decade.
Properly fitted and programmed by a qualified hearing professional, hearing aids can give you a good understanding of speech, even in environments with a lot of background noise. Many models can also connect to your iPhone effortlessly and stream audio, music, phone calls, or even stream directions right to your ears.
For the sake of your safety and wellbeing, it’s time to do the right thing and acknowledge your hearing loss. That way, you can open yourself up to treatment. Think about how you can reconnect with your friends and family. Think about how much more confidence and independence you will regain. Think about restoring your quality of life.
Ready to take charge of your hearing? We here at Able Hearing are on hand to help. We offer a large variety of hearing aids and assistive devices, as well as extensive hearing tests. We’re here for you to provide personalized care and treatment plans tailored to suit your lifestyle and needs.