As we grow older, so do our ears. Although hearing loss can occur at any age, adults with professions in music, farming, steel mills, etc., are at an extremely high risk for developing hearing impairment.
But, hearing loss in adults is due to a variety of factors:
- Repetitive exposure to high-pitched noise
- Untreated chronic ear infections
- Certain medications such as antibiotics or chemotherapy
- Normal aging process
Millions of adults (about 15%) are struggling with hearing loss, and yet, many are not seeking treatment. Hearing loss should be no big deal, right? If people have vision loss, they get glasses. So, what's the difference?
Hearing loss is invisible. Other people can't see it, so they assume it's not there.
Hearing Loss Effects In Daily Life
Hearing loss can impact both your personal and work life. People affected by hearing loss may not hear someone when they ask a question. A lack of response can make a person appear rude or unintelligent. For a person with hearing impairment, frequently saying "excuse me" often hurts their self-esteem. The debilitating social isolation that can come with hearing loss can be heartbreaking.
Additionally, studies have shown that adults with even mild hearing loss were more likely to develop dementia than other adults with normal hearing.
Hearing loss is common, but the stigma still remains. About 20% of adults who need hearing aids still won't get them. Many people with hearing impairment are going out of their way to hide or deny their struggles, wasting years of missed conversations and intimate interactions.
Hearing Aid Technology Improving
With a recent upsurge in digital technology, digital hearing aids are becoming a discreet and welcomed supplement for those suffering from hearing loss. Digital hearing aids are a lot smaller with less visibility than assistive hearing devices of previous decades. Essentially, digital hearing aids are like mini-computers for your ears with advanced components including:
- Rechargeable batteries
- Bluetooth capabilities for hearing aids
- The ability to separate key sounds as opposed to only being an amplifier
- Customized to ensure a proper fit by working closely with an ENT and audiologist
For moderate to severe hearing loss, cochlear implants may be an option.
It's time to end the stigma of hearing loss and help those with hearing impairment feel confident. Affecting 48 million Americans, with 1 in 5 adults struggling with hearing loss, let's encourage everyone to start joining in the conversation again.
If you or someone you love has struggled with hearing loss, speak with one of our ear, nose and throat specialists or audiologists.
By Lindsey Elderkin
Franciscan Health Copywriter