If you feel like you’ve been struggling to keep up with conversations recently or you frequently miss parts of what others are saying, this could indicate changes in your hearing health. Difficulties with communication is a common sign of hearing loss, a chronic medical condition that reduces a person’s capacity to perceive and process sound. Impacting over 48 million people, hearing loss is one of the most common health issues experienced today. If you’ve been navigating communication challenges, it is important to have your hearing tested as soon as possible. Addressing hearing loss early can prevent symptoms from worsening, significantly supporting your overall health and wellness.
Common Causes of Hearing Loss
Nearly 1 in 6 people have some degree of hearing loss, making imparied hearing the third most common health condition that people live with today. Several factors can contribute to its development, a few common causes include the following:
- Aging: the risk of developing age related hearing loss, also known as presbycusis, increases with age. 1 in 3 adults, ages 65-74 have hearing loss which increases to 1 in 2 adults ages 75 and older. Age related hearing loss can be caused by a few factors including the cumulative toll of loud noise exposure, developing medical conditions (that are linked to hearing loss) which older adults are also at higher risk of, or changes to the ears.
- Exposure to loud noise: one time or consistent exposure to loud noise can damage the hair cells in the inner ear. These sensory cells play a critical role in how we hear and process sound. They convert incoming soundwaves into electrical signals which get sent to the brain. The brain is then able to further process these signals and assign meaning to them which allows us to understand what we hear. Loud noise can cause hair cells to become desentized, reducing their capacity to perform effectively.
- Medical conditions: research shows that numerous medical conditions can increase the risk of hearing loss. This includes cardiovascular disease, hypertension, diabetes, and osteoporosis. These conditions impact blood flow, arteries, and bone health which are all essential for the auditory system.
Other causes of hearing loss include head injuries and inner ear disorders. It is important to be aware of hearing loss symptoms so you can recognize any changes you may experience to your hearing health.
Difficulties with Communication is a Common Sign
Hearing loss typically occurs gradually so it can remain unnoticed for quite some time. Knowing the signs to look out for can help you identify hearing loss early. Difficulties with communication is one of the most common symptoms of imparied hearing. This can include:
- Tinnitus: a buzzing or ringing noise in one or both ears
- Sounds are muffled or distorted
- Asking others to repeat themselves, speak louder, and/or slower
- Difficulty following conversations, missing parts of a conversation
- Lip reading to help identify individual words
- Needing to move to an area that is quieter to hear more clearly
- Having a hard time hearing in environments with background noise
- Pretending to hear to get through a conversation
- Finding yourself saying “huh” or “what” in response to what other are saying
These challenges make it tough to participate in conversations. This can lead to miscommunication, unpleasant interactions, and an exhausting time trying to hear. If any of these symptoms are familiar to you, it is important to have your hearing assessed by a hearing healthcare specialist.
Treating Hearing Loss
Fortunately, there are useful ways that hearing loss is treated and managed. The most common treatment is hearing aids, electronic devices that are prescribed by a hearing healthcare provider. These savvy pieces of technology help absorb and process speech and sound, providing the ears and brain with ample hearing support. Hearing aids alleviate hearing loss symptoms and increase one’s capacity to hear. This allows people to participate in conversations without the burden and barrier of symptoms. Hearing aids support people engaging with others with much greater ease, comfort, adn presence. This transforms hearing and communication, offering numerous benefits that enhance quality of life – improves relationships, health, social life etc.
Contact us today to schedule an appointment for a hearing consultation. This is the first step towards prioritizing your hearing health and wellness.