March 3rd is World Hearing Day! Organized by the World Health Organization (WHO), this global campaign advocates for hearing healthcare. Hearing loss is one of the most common health conditions that people experience today. Impacting over 48 million people in the United States alone, hearing loss is pervasive. Though it is common it is often undertreated, with only a third of people who can benefit from treatment actually receiving it.
You can celebrate World Hearing Day by prioritizing your hearing health with one easy step: scheduling an appointment for a hearing test.
What causes hearing loss?
Hearing loss can be caused by several factors. A few of the most common causes include the following:
- Loud noise: one time or consistent exposure to loud noise can permanently damage the sensory cells in the inner ear. Loud noise can desensitize and weaken these cells, reducing their capacity to effectively and efficiently process incoming soundwaves. This results in the brain receiving less auditory information, producing chronic hearing loss.
- Aging: the risk of developing hearing loss increases with age. Age related hearing loss, also known as presbycusis, can be caused by a few factors. This includes the cumulative toll of loud noise on hearing, changes to the ears that may happen over time, and existing medical conditions that impact older adults disproportionately and are linked to an increased risk of hearing loss.
- Medical conditions: extensive research shows that a number of medical conditions can increase the risk of hearing loss. This includes heart disease, diabetes, and hypertension which are conditions that can impact blood flow and vessels in the body including the ears. This can impact how noise is absorbed and processed, contributing to hearing loss.
Other causes of hearing loss include head injuries, inner ear disorders, and chronic ear infections.
What are common hearing loss symptoms?
Hearing loss typically occurs gradually so people may not immediately be aware that they are experiencing symptoms. In fact, it takes an average of 7 years for people to address hearing loss. Being able to recognize symptoms can support you seeking treatment earlier. Common symptoms include:
- Tinnitus: a ringing or buzzing like noise that only you can hear (in one ear or both).
- Sounds are muffled or distorted.
- Trouble hearing on the phone.
- Difficulty following conversations, especially in places with background noise.
- Lip reading to help distinguish words.
- Asking others to repeat what they said, speak louder, and/or slower.
- Often responding with “huh” or “what”.
- Increasing the volume on the TV, phone, or other electronic devices.
- Pretending to hear to get through a conversation.
- Feeling exhausted or drained after conversations and social interactions.
- Spending less time with loved ones.
- Keeping conversations short.
- Skipping out on social activities and gatherings.
These symptoms can be mild to more severe, depending on the degree of hearing loss you are experiencing. To cope, people often avoid conversations as much as possible. This tends to look like spending less time engaging with others. Social withdrawal is a major effect of untreated hearing loss and not only does this impact relationships and social life, but it can take a toll on mental health by contributing to the development of depressive symptoms. If you recognize any of these symptoms, it is important to have your hearing evaluated.
How is hearing loss treated?
Fortunately, there are effective ways that hearing loss is treated. The most common treatment is hearing aids which are electronic devices that are designed to help absorb and process sound. This provides the ears and brain with tremendous support that alleviates hearing loss symptoms and maximizes one’s hearing capacity. Similar to most electronic devices today, hearing aids have experienced significant innovation in recent years. Today’s hearing aids are savvier and sleeker than ever before. They offer award winning designs, a range of features, and exciting technologies that deliver sharp sound quality and increased connectivity. This supports hearing needs in everyday settings and makes hearing seamless.
Celebrate World Hearing Day by Scheduling a Hearing Test
World Hearing Day is a great reminder to prioritize your hearing health. You can do this with one simple step: schedule an appointment for a hearing test. A hearing evaluation involves a painless and non-invasive process that thoroughly assesses your hearing health and identifies your hearing needs. Contact us today to schedule an appointment for a hearing consultation.