Loss of hearing is a big problem in the U.S.; over 28 million adults are living with some degree of it. While this may seem like an inconvenience at worst, untreated hearing loss has proven to be a major health concern, as it impacts individuals’ mental and physical well-being. Without proper treatment, those with hearing loss may see a significant decline in their quality of life.
What Are the Negative Effects?
The impact hearing loss has on personal relationships is well-documented, but it’s only been in the last few decades that the connection between hearing and cognition has been studied in detail. A variety of studies confirm that seniors living with significant impairment experience a range of negative effects, several of which may initially go unnoticed.
Increased Risk of Dementia
One of the most surprising issues is the increased risk of dementia. Compared to their normal-hearing peers, individuals who lose hearing as a consequence of aging are two to five times more likely to develop dementia. This is due to the increased brain activity required to process auditory information. Unfortunately, this cognitive degradation gets worse as the loss becomes more severe.
Higher Rates of Depression and Anxiety
Seniors who experience hearing loss without seeking treatment are also vulnerable to developing psychological disorders. Individuals who struggle to communicate may experience anxiety in new or social situations, leading them to avoid such circumstances. They may also experience depression as a consequence of withdrawing from the world or perceiving themselves as less capable or as a burden.
Hearing is a key sense that alerts humans to danger. Without the ability to hear subtle sounds, seniors are more vulnerable to volatile situations such as home invasion. They may also experience more risks to their personal safety in relation to household accidents and falls due to an integral part that hearing plays in balance.
Higher Rates of Loneliness
Communication is a vital part of any relationship and the hard of hearing may experience loneliness even when in regular contact with loved ones. The inability to understand those around them can create a disconnect between seniors and their support system, leading to feelings of isolation. If they’re also experiencing anxiety, seniors may avoid talking on the phone or meeting in-person, making it difficult to maintain bonds with people they hold dear.
How Can Hearing Loss Be Detected?
The good news is, hearing loss is fairly easy to detect. Many clinics around the country, including in Houston, TX, specialize in screening. These tests aren’t invasive or even highly technical; this technology allows us to detect hearing loss with more accuracy, the actual testing process remains fairly simple. In fact, you’ve probably undergone these tests as a child.
The process typically takes 30 minutes and consists of the following:
- Wearing headphones
- Listening to a series of tones at differing pitches
- Indicating, often by raising your hand, when you hear a tone
The varied pitches allow medical professionals to pinpoint the degree of hearing loss in a patient.
Who Should Get Screened?
All adults are advised to have their hearing tested periodically, but just how frequently you need to be screened depends on your age. Individuals age 50 and over should be tested every three years, as the risk of hearing loss increases as we get older. Adults under 50 should get tested every 10 years unless you work in an industry where excessive noise is common, in which case you should get screened more often.
What Treatments Are Available?
Today, hearing loss treatment is fairly easy to acquire once patients have been diagnosed. The primary treatment is the use of hearing aids, which are worn either in or behind the ear. They come in a range of prices and models to accommodate a variety of needs.
In the Ear Hearing Aids
As the name implies, in the ear models are crafted to fit inside the ear. Modern options are comfortable and discrete with a variety of styles:
- Full shell
- Half shell
Which you choose depends on your degree of hearing loss and visibility preferences.
Learn more about In-the-Ear Hearing Aids here.
Behind the Ear Hearing Aids
Rather than fitting snugly in the ear, these models have the majority of components placed behind it with a tube that runs into the canal. This is highly beneficial for individuals who struggle with drainage and is one of the reasons for this model’s high popularity. Like the in the ear hearing aids, you have several options:
- BTE with earmold
- Mini BTE
Learn more about Behind the Ear Hearing Aids here.
Digital Hearing Aids
Digital hearing aids predominantly function like their analog predecessors with a few additional features:
- Noise management
- Music identification
- Feedback cancellation
- Directional microphones
Learn more about Digital Hearing Aids here.
Contact Memorial Hearing Today!
Are you experiencing age-related hearing loss? The team at Memorial Hearing in Houston, TX, can help. We offer a range of services, including diagnostic hearing examines and hearing aid fittings. To find out more or to schedule an appointment, give us a call at (713) 984-7562 or contact us online.
Photo Credit: pathdoc/shutterstock.com