Our hearing is integral to keeping us connected with the world around us, and to those we love. We truly understand the impact hearing loss has on quality of life and overall wellbeing.
More than 60% of older adults have a hearing loss. Unfortunately, only one in five who need a hearing aid actually wear one - and they wait an average of 5-7 years before addressing their loss. Untreated hearing loss can affect your ability to understand speech and can negatively impact your social, emotional and physical well-being. Recent studies have strongly linked it to other health problems, such as cognitive decline, increased risk of dementia, and poorer physical function.
Hearing loss is becoming more common at a younger age. Causes include increased noise pollution and the use of personal listening devices that utilize headphones and ear pieces.
Signs of Hearing Loss
Do any of these questions apply to you?
- I have trouble understanding what people are saying
- I often need to ask people to repeat themselves
- I have trouble understanding conversations when there’s background noise, for example, at a restaurant or in a busy workplace
- I have a difficult time talking on the phone
- I turn up the TV and radio to levels that others tell me is loud
- I’ve been told that I have a hearing problem
If you answered yes to more than two of these question you likely have hearing loss that needs to be addressed.
Consequences of Untreated Hearing Loss
Hearing loss is generally a slow and insidious process. Because deterioration occurs over a long period of time, the individual becomes accustomed to accommodating for the loss and may not realize how bad their hearing has become. Unfortunately, the effects of untreated hearing loss are serious.
Untreated hearing loss is dangerous and can lead to a variety of health issues. Incidents of serious depression are higher in those with untreated hearing loss. As it becomes more and more difficult to hear, the individual begins self-isolating, withdrawing from family and friends as their frustration grows. The result is a loss of warmth in their relationships that contributes to further feelings of isolation. Disagreements over hearing loss are also common, as the individual struggles to come to terms with their loss. This vicious cycle has a profoundly detrimental impact not only on the wellbeing of the individual, but on loved ones as well.
A study conducted by Johns Hopkins and the National Institute on Aging found a correlation between untreated hearing loss and a loss of cognitive function, noting a higher risk of developing forms of dementia, such as Alzheimer’s. Auditory deprivation, which is what happens when the brain no longer receives appropriate auditory stimulation, leads to diminished cognitive function. Auditory stimulation is critical in maintaining healthy brain function.
Additionally, in a study funded by the National Institutes of Health, researchers found a correlation between hearing loss and increased incidence of falls. The study indicates that people with as little as a 25 decibel loss, classified as mild, were almost three times as likely to have a history of falling. The study also found that every additional 10 decibels of loss increased the risk of falling by 1.4 fold.
Reversing the Effects of Hearing Loss
The good news is that many of the issues experienced due to untreated hearing loss can be halted and in some cases, reversed when the individual is fitted with bilateral hearing aids.
Many wearers report feeling reenergized by hearing the world in a way they have not experienced it for many years. Once auditory stimulation is restored, cognitive abilities can sometimes be partially regained through special exercises.
Hearing-in-a-Box is committed to promoting overall wellness through improved hearing health.
Do I Need to Wear Two Aids?
The benefits of wearing two hearing aids versus one are well documented.
- Wearing two hearing aids can provide up to 10 decibels of additional gain to the overall perceived enhancement of sound quality
- Better localization of sound is achieved with two aids, making it easier to identify where the source of sound is coming from. You brain gather information from the sound coming into both ears and determines the source. One scenario in which this is helpful is when you are in a noisy setting, like a restaurant, trying to discern who is speaking
- Wearers perceive greater sound clarity, which aids in better understanding of speech. The listening experience is also enhanced, with wearers often reporting a “brightness” and “fullness” of sound.
The best way of knowing if you would benefit from two aids is to test it for yourself. In your home, out and about in the places you frequent or speaking with your family and friends, you can judge for yourself if you benefit from bilateral hearing aids.