Hearing loss is one of the biggest health concerns in the U.S. It is the third most commonly reported physical condition, following arthritis and heart disease. It affects roughly 20 percent of the American population, and can strike people of all ages.
The most common causes of hearing loss are noise exposure and aging.
Hearing Loss Symptoms
Hearing loss is a progressive condition that worsens over time. Symptoms appear so gradually, you may be completely unaware of your affliction for some time. Even when hearing loss is suspected, it takes an average of seven years for a person to seek medical treatment. Knowing the signs is helpful in spurring you to take action sooner. Any of the following might indicate hearing loss:
- Frequently asking people to repeat what they have said
- Feeling like others mumble when they speak
- Having difficulty following conversations in which background noise is present
- Turning up the volume on the television or radio
- Avoiding social gatherings in noisy places
Often, a family member or friend will be the first to notice a hearing problem. Since treatment is most effective when begun early, if you think you might be suffering from diminished hearing, do not hesitate to schedule an appointment with a hearing specialist. The sooner, the better!
Hearing Loss Treatment
In order to diagnose hearing loss, your doctor will review your medical history and discuss your symptoms. They’ll also give you a physical examination followed by a hearing evaluation consisting of a series of audiological tests.
Treatment will depend on your type and degree of hearing loss.
Benefits of Treating Hearing Loss
Individuals who seek treatment for their hearing loss see improvements in all aspects of their lives. They are known to have better overall health, professional success and emotional well-being than those who don’t.
Improved General Health. Patients who treat their hearing loss experience a decrease in feelings of depression, anger and anxiety. They also see an improvement in their balance. Individuals who leave their hearing loss untreated are three times more likely to suffer physical injuries, especially falls. They are also at an increased risk of cognitive decline.
Improved Professional Success. Untreated hearing loss leads to difficulty concentrating, especially when communicating with others. It can also lead to reduced job performance and less monetary compensation. New research suggests that untreated hearing loss can actually lead to problems storing new information, making it harder for individuals to learn new things.
Improved Emotional Well-Being. Treating hearing loss enables a patient to once again be able to navigate the world on their own and overcome a reliance on others, thus regaining their sense of control. Those that treat their hearing loss have reduced periods of social isolation as well as healthier and longer-lasting relationships. They have also been shown to have higher self-esteem and quality of life than those that don’t.