Hearing loss is one of the most common health conditions people experience today. Nearly 1 in 8 people have some degree of impaired hearing, impacting over 40 million people in the U.S. alone. Though hearing loss is a pervasive medical condition that affects overall health, it is often under diagnosed. Impaired hearing typically happens gradually so people may not be completely aware that it is happening. Additionally, one of the most common misconceptions about it is that it is not a serious health issue. These factors often contribute to the overlooking or delay in addressing hearing loss. It is important to be aware of early warning signs and to treat hearing loss with an audiologist.
Hearing Loss Symptoms
Hearing loss can be caused by a variety of factors including genetic history, aging, environmental exposure to loud noise, and existing medical conditions (hypertension, diabetes, cardiovascular disease etc.). There are numerous symptoms that indicate impaired hearing including:
- Tinnitus which is a buzzing or ringing noise in one or both ears
- Increasing the volume on electronic devices (TV, speaker, smartphone)
- Sound is muffled or slurred
- Difficulty following entire conversations, especially with background noise
- Frequently asking others to repeat themselves, speak louder and/or slower
- Moving to quieter area to have conversation
- Ability to hear better in one ear over the other
- Reading mouths to identify words
These symptoms can be experienced from mildly to profoundly and can significantly impact a person’s ability to manage professional and personal responsibilities. It is critical to address these symptoms by scheduling an appointment with an audiologist.
What do Audiologists Do?
Audiologists are health care experts who specialize in the evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment of hearing loss and balance disorders. Audiologists provide individualized care that focuses on improving hearing health by providing a range of services including the following:
- Tinnitus Therapy: which is a common symptom of hearing loss. Audiologists can help manage tinnitus through therapeutic strategies.
- Evaluating Balance Disorders: audiologists evaluate balance related issues – dizziness, vertigo, unsteadiness which is commonly associated with inner ear damage.
- Hearing Tests: audiologists conduct hearing tests which measure hearing ability in both ears. Hearing tests identify any impairment, the degree, and specific type of hearing loss a person may be experiencing. This informs effective treatment options.
- Hearing Aids: which is the most common treatment for hearing loss, audiologists offer expert analysis and suggestions on which would work best for you. They can also establish the settings which maximize your hearing.
These important services identify a person’s specific hearing needs and ways to meet those hearing needs effectively. Audiologists are equipped with the resources and expertise needed to improve one’s hearing health.
Benefits of Treating Hearing Loss
Addressing your hearing loss has numerous benefits that can improve your daily life and ability to navigate with greater ease. The benefits of treating hearing loss include the following:
- Strengthens Communication: treating hearing loss alleviates the range of symptoms that strain communication. Hearing loss reduces the ability to absorb and process sound which results in people using various strategies to hear. These strategies – reading mouths, speaking louder, ignoring the issue – are not effective and make conversations difficult. Hearing aids are designed to amplify and process sound which significantly improves hearing ability.
- Improves Well Being: social withdrawal is another common effect of hearing loss. Because conversations become challenging, people can avoid social engagements and interactions altogether. This means less time with family and friends; this isolation can contribute to feelings of depression and stress which impacts mental health. Treating hearing loss alleviates this as well as supports people fully participating in daily life.
- Protects Overall Health: treating hearing loss reduces the risk of developing other medical conditions including dementia. In addition to accidental injuries, unemployment, and underemployment.
Treating hearing loss alleviates symptoms, strengthens communication, and social wellness. This improves quality and longevity of life and the first step is simple! You can be proactive about your hearing health by scheduling an appointment for a hearing test with our team. Our audiologists can best guide you through effective ways to improve your hearing, communication, and health!