Avoiding Hearing Tests Could Worsen Our Hearing Abilities

Avoiding Hearing Tests Could Worsen Our Hearing Abilities

In Hearing Health, Hearing Tests by Jennifer Douberly, Au.D.

Hearing Tests Are The Only Real Guarantee 

Hearing health is a foundation of overall health just as impactful as a healthy diet, exercise, and proper sleep. Perhaps this does not occur to people as commonly as these other essential components of a healthy lifestyle because hearing loss often comes on so gradually that most frequently people fail to recognize it. We take our hearing for granted. 

But so much depends on our hearing health. For starters, our sense of balance depends on it. You can be in an empty room by yourself and if you are suffering from hearing loss then your physical safety is already at risk. Your balance is thrown off. Now add to this scenario the presence of crowds beyond your control, and traffic and it is obvious how our physical safety in public spaces depends on our keen ability to hear.

The consequences of failing to treat hearing loss unravel so much more deeply and expansive than simply functioning in the immediate as an alert system. When hearing loss is coming on and someone does not even recognize yet that it is happening, they are likely to withdraw socially. They find socializing fatiguing. Following a conversation with two or more people when background noise is present requires them to concentrate extra closely. They are likely dropping some words and filling in the blanks with context clues. All this is happening subconsciously and they probably have no idea why they suddenly find it so tiring to go out. 

And this social withdrawal of course leads to loneliness and loneliness often leads to depression. Depression creates a feedback loop of unhealthy thoughts and habits, until one’s underlying quality of life is diminished. 

Really take a moment to consider these tragic statistics: More than half of everyone aged 75 and above suffers from disabling hearing loss. Less than 20% of everyone who suffers from hearing loss does so with the support of appropriate treatment. 

All these people living with such unnecessary suffering, it is not because they are old and some predestined curse befell them. It is the result of the habits they formed throughout the entirety of their lives. 

Early Prevention and Detection 

The keys to sustained hearing health are early prevention and early detection. Hearing loss is permanent and irreversible. It is also, however, perfectly manageable with an appropriate treatment plan in place. Without a proper treatment plan, the pathways in our brain that decipher sound signals atrophy. And any atrophy to our brains is a risk.  

Intentionally creating healthy habits is the key to early prevention. Make a point of limiting your exposure to loud environments. Make a habit of carrying and using earplugs any time you suspect that you maybe should. 

And perhaps most importantly, get in the habit of keeping up with regular annual checkups on your hearing. You get a physical every year. You keep up with dentist visits. Why should your hearing be any less of a priority? 

The effectiveness of hearing aids depends on intervening as early as possible, before the consequences of hearing loss have had a chance to compound. Hearing aids are also not always the best option for treatment. Every case is unique, so every treatment is of course unique. Objective assessment by a specialist is crucial to taking a proactive role in your own overall health. 

Why So Many People Fail to Treat Their Hearing Loss 

Though it is impossible to get an exact number, researchers estimate that about 14% of the U.S. population over the age of 18 suffers from some detectable degree of hearing loss. This is between 35-45 million people. And most commonly, people do not even recognize it in themselves. This is because it comes on so gradually over a number of years, it is impossible to detect. 

And many people have little reason to suspect it is happening to them because as far as they can tell, they never took any risks any differently than anyone else. So many risky habits have been normalized. They just went to the same sporting events as everyone else, the same loud clubs. Wore earbuds blasting at full volume same as everyone else. Worked on the factory floor same as anyone else. Whatever our personal habits may be, we find the community to normalize them. 

So why should they suddenly find themselves asking people to repeat themselves so frequently? Why should they have trouble making out speech from background noise? 

Make an appointment with one of our specialists today