The new year is upon us, which means it’s time to break out the champagne–and also a pen and paper for making our annual list of resolutions. Exercise more, eat a healthier diet, make new friends, start saving for that trip…some of our goals will be kept, and some will be broken, as always seems to be the case.
But one resolution that you should keep–particularly if you are age 50 or older–is to schedule an annual hearing exam. If you suffer from undiagnosed hearing loss, this single step has the potential to make a significant positive impact on your life, and even prevent future illness and injury.
]Many people postpone having their hearing checked, often for years after first noticing a decline in their hearing. Perhaps they are afraid to receive confirmation that their hearing is not what it used to be, or they think that they are alone with this condition. But they needn’t feel this way–hearing loss is not only treatable, but also incredibly common. Let’s take a look at some surprising facts about hearing loss in America:
-The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) estimates that 15 percent of Americans between the ages of 20 and 69 suffer from noise-induced hearing loss.
-Age-related hearing loss is one of the most common conditions affecting older adults: 1 in 3 people in the United States between the ages of 65 and 74 has hearing loss, and nearly half of those older than 75 have difficulty hearing.
-Work-related hearing loss is also incredibly common: according to the CDC, four million workers go to work each day in damaging noise, ten million people in the U.S. have a noise-related hearing loss, and twenty-two million workers are exposed to potentially damaging noise each year.
So, whether your hearing loss is related to noise exposure, age or another cause, the facts speak for themselves: you are not alone.
]While there are numerous benefits that come from treating hearing loss, the opposite is also true. Research shows that letting hearing loss go untreated can have serious consequences, on both the body and the mind.
One of the most compelling reasons to seek help with hearing loss is the fact that this condition, when untreated, has been linked to diminished cognitive function. A study at Johns Hopkins recently found that cognitive diminishment was 41 percent greater in seniors with hearing loss. There are two primary reasons for this: the first is that hearing loss can cause increased isolation and loneliness, which in turn increases the risk factors for Alzheimer’s and dementia. The second is that the brain, as it works to understand degraded speech signals, has less energy to put towards other tasks, so things like memory and comprehension begin to suffer.
Untreated hearing loss can also have damaging effects on personal relationships. As communication between the hard of hearing person and their friends and family becomes increasingly frustrating, many people with hearing loss react by withdrawing from social activities, which can put even more space between themselves and those around them.
Finally, hearing damage that goes untreated has been shown to have a negative effect on general health and well-being, and contributes to the risk of falls and injuries.
]Fortunately, hearing loss is treatable, and research shows that individuals who treat their hearing loss early with hearing aids have shown significant benefits. Hearing aids, by making it easier for your brain to process and understand sounds, can: reduce mental fatigue, decrease one’s feelings of social isolation and depression, improve memory, attention and focus, and also improve social relationships by greatly aiding in communication.
The Johns Hopkins School of Medicine recommends you have your hearing checked at least once a year, so even if you don’t currently notice any signs of hearing loss, an annual exam should be on your to-do list. If you feel tentative about going on your own, ask a friend or family member to go with you for support. With all of the substantial benefits that go along with treating your hearing loss, there’s no reason to delay.
Ready to schedule your annual hearing test? Contact us at Arizona Balance and Hearing Aids today!