Why You Should Treat Your Hearing with an Audiologist

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!

Working with Hearing Loss

Hearing loss is a public health epidemic that nearly 1 in 8 people live with in the U.S. A permanent medical condition, hearing loss has multifaceted effects that impact a person’s ability to manage professional and personal responsibilities with ease. Impaired hearing reduces one’s capacity to absorb and process sound which strains communication, impacts relationships, social engagement, and overall health. This can make it particularly difficult to navigate work environments and maximize job performance. Addressing hearing loss and practicing a few useful tips can help you effectively manage hearing loss in the workplace and tend to your hearing health! 

 

Treating Hearing Loss 

The first and most critical step is to treat hearing loss. It is critical to be aware of the symptoms and seek treatment as soon as possible. Early intervention can prevent the impairment from worsening and help you transition to better hearing health sooner! It can also alleviate the range of symptoms that make it difficult to engage in communication: 

  • Tinnitus (buzzing or ringing noise in one or both ears)
  • Sound is slurred or muffled 
  • Frequently asking others to repeat themselves and/or speak slowly 
  • Unable to follow entire conversation 
  • Difficulty hearing in environments with background noise 

In addition to alleviating these symptoms and enhancing communication, treating hearing loss allows people to participate fully in all aspects of their life. 

Fortunately, there are effective ways to treat hearing loss that increase one’s ability to hear. Treatment begins with having your hearing assessed by a hearing healthcare specialist. Hearing tests involve a noninvasive and painless process that measures your hearing in both ears. This establishes any impairment and the degree of hearing loss you may be experiencing. The most common treatment for hearing loss is hearing aids which are small, electronic devices designed to help absorb, amplify, and process sound. Hearing aids can significantly improve hearing, allowing people to easily navigate daily life!

 

Tips for Working with Hearing Loss

In addition to recognizing and treating hearing loss there are several ways you can create an accessible and supportive work environment that meets your hearing needs. A few helpful ways include: 

  • Disclose Hearing Loss: it is normal to be uncertain about sharing your hearing loss with colleagues and supervisors. Though you may feel nervous or anxious about it, disclosing your hearing loss is incredibly beneficial! It allows your employer and the people you work with to participate in creating a work environment that supports your hearing needs. It also facilitates having conversations about effective communication strategies and best ways to engage in conversation. 
  • Workplace Accommodations: disclosing your hearing loss also opens the conversation with your employer about the workplace accommodations that you are entitled to. In addition to prohibiting discrimination on the basis of disability, the American Disabilities Act (ADA), requires employers to provide accommodations that support maximum job performance.  There are various types of accommodations that could be really useful for you including: physical changes to your work area, investment in hearing technologies, captioning services etc. Taking the time to research the range of workplace accommodations available to know what would best meet your needs would be helpful!
  • Share Communication Strategies: taking the time to think and practice different ways that enhance your hearing is a critical way to develop effective communication skills. There are numerous strategies that support hearing and easeful conversations including: making eye contact, facing the speaker, maintaining a comfortable distance, reducing background noise, avoiding distractions and multitasking etc. Identifying what best works for you and sharing this information is incredibly helpful. This allows other people to actively participate in having an effective exchange. 
  • Plan for Hearing Needs & Protect Hearing Health: thinking about and planning for your hearing needs in different work situations is helpful. This could look like asking for a meeting agenda and/or minutes prior to a meeting, changing room configurations, requesting captioned services etc. 

Additionally, if you work in a noisier work environment, you should wear protective gear (earmuffs, earplugs, headphones) that reduce the amount of noise you absorb. You can also use noise cancelling headphones which reduce background noise and prevent you from increasing the volume on personal devices. Taking a few extra measures can significantly protect your hearing health! 

Avoiding Hearing Tests Could Make the Problem Much Worse

Hearing loss is the third most common chronic health condition that older adults experience. Nearly 1 in 8 people have some degree of hearing loss which impacts over 40 million people in the U.S. Though impaired hearing is a prevalent medical condition, it is often undertreated. It often happens gradually so people can overlook this progressive decline for quite some time. 

Additionally, people may think that it is not a serious health concern and can simply be dealt with by masking the issue. But avoiding seeking treatment and taking a hearing test will likely worsen impairment which can impact overall health. Addressing symptoms early and prioritizing your hearing health can drastically improve your quality of life.  

 

Hearing Loss Symptoms

Hearing loss can be caused by a variety of factors including existing medical conditions (hypertension, diabetes, cardiovascular disease), exposure to loud noise, aging, and genetic history. These factors can damage integral parts of the auditory system and reduce one’s ability to hear, producing a range of symptoms including: 

  • Tinnitus: a buzzing or ringing noise in one or both ears 
  • Sounds are slurred or muffled 
  • Difficulty identifying individual words and following a conversation
  • Frequently increasing the volume on electronic devices 
  • Needing others to repeat themselves, speak loudly and/or slowly
  • Moving to quieter area to have conversation
  • Hearing better in one ear over the other 
  • Difficulty hearing in environments with background noise and/or during conversations with multiple people 

These symptoms can be mild to severe and significantly impact a person’s ability to manage professional and personal responsibilities. 

 

Impact of Hearing Loss 

Communication is a major way we navigate and make sense of the world. The profound effect hearing loss can have on communication has multifaceted effects on all aspects of a person’s life. Including: 

 

  • Strained Communication: hearing loss symptoms make it challenging to participate in and follow conversations. People can feel lost during conversations, miss important information, have difficulty responding. This can be frustrating for everyone involved in the conversation and can also impact job performance in addition to social life. 
  • Social Withdrawal: conversations often require extra effort and energy for people with hearing loss and this can be exhausting. Engaging with others can feel like more work than pleasure and people can avoid them altogether. Avoiding social settings, gatherings, and conversations means spending less time with family and friends. This kind of isolation can also lead to withdrawal from hobbies and activities that provide joy and exercise. 
  • Overall Health Decline: strained communication and social withdrawal can take a toll on physical and mental health which impacts general well-being and happiness on a daily basis. Also, untreated hearing loss can contribute to the development of other medical conditions. 

 

Untreated hearing loss can worsen symptoms and impairment. It can also lead to increased accidental injuries and the development of cognitive decline. Seeking treatment is critical for your overall health and wellness! 

 

Seeking Treatment 

It is incredibly important to intervene and prioritize your hearing health. Early intervention can drastically improve health outcomes and help you transition to better hearing with greater ease. Seeking treatment is actually relatively simple! 

The first step is to schedule an appointment to have your hearing assessed. Hearing tests are a noninvasive and easy way to measure your hearing ability in both ears. Conducted by one of our hearing health providers, hearing tests determine any impairment as well as the degree and specific type of hearing loss you may be experiencing. This establishes your hearing needs and allows you to work with an audiologist to meet your specific hearing needs. 

Fortunately, there are effective ways to treat hearing loss! The most common treatment is hearing aids which are electronic devices that absorb, amplify, and process sound. This increase’s one’s ability to hear and communicate in all types of environments. 

With the advanced technology of today, hearing aids are more innovative (and smaller) than ever. There is a wide range of features and technologies that are designed to facilitate seamless listening experiences and effective communication. A hearing health specialist will discuss these possibilities and what could work best for you. Treating hearing loss strengthens communication and allows you to participate fully in all areas of life!