Although hearing loss is one of the leading chronic health conditions in the United States, and despite decades of work by advocates and hearing health professionals, there remain a number of myths surrounding the problem.
How well can you spot hearing loss facts and fictions?
There Isn’t Anything You Can Do About Mild Hearing Loss
False. All types of hearing loss are treatable. There are two types of hearing loss: conductive and sensorineural. Conductive hearing loss is usually reversible and stems from an obstruction that prevents sound from reaching the inner ear. One of the most common culprits is ear wax. Removal of the obstruction typically results in a return to normal hearing.
Sensorineural hearing loss is caused by a problem with the ear cells or nerves that causes an interruption in normal function. The most common reasons for sensorineural hearing loss are age-related and noise-induced hearing loss. These types of hearing loss are nearly always irreversible, but they are both highly treatable!
Hearing Health Is At Risk In Everyday Situations
True. Any time volumes exceed 85 decibels, your hearing is at risk. The ear can withstand loud soundscapes, at levels around 85 decibels, for up to 8 hours without incurring damage. However, as the volume rises, so does the risk level and our window of tolerance shrinks. We can only safely take 15 minutes at 95-100 decibels, but we subject our ears to these volumes without thinking all the time. A motorcycle, hair dryer, live concert, movie theater and even sporting events all reach or even exceed this noise level.
Many People Live With Unacknowledged Hearing Loss
True. People wait an average of ten years before intervening in hearing loss. Unfortunately, early hearing loss is difficult to self-diagnose. In fact, it’s often friends and family who notice changes in behavior first. The initial warning signs of hearing loss focus on trouble with speech clarity, or understanding what people are saying.
A large number of people with early hearing loss first use coping mechanisms to get by, whether by cranking television volumes up to their limit or even avoiding conversations with friends and loved ones. Both age-related and noise-induced hearing loss are progressive, and so eventually, these types of hearing loss become so pronounced that they cannot be ignored any longer.
Hearing Loss Is Something You Must Live With As You Age
False. While it’s true that age is the strongest predictor of hearing loss, it isn’t a condition that must be suffered. If you notice changes in your hearing health, schedule a hearing exam to find out what’s really going on. In some cases, hearing loss is the result of another underlying cause that needs attention.
Even if hearing loss stems only from aging, there is still hope.There are a number of proven and successful treatment options on the market ranging from hearing aids to cochlear implants.
Hearing Health Impacts Cognitive Health
True. The systems of the human body do not function in silos. Instead, each system works with and relies upon the others. This is especially true of the hearing and cognition systems. A large portion of what we consider hearing happens in the brain, invisible and so instantaneous that it is subconscious. While the ear receives the sound, it then transforms it into sound information that can be processed by the brain. The auditory nerve is the pathway of such information, from the ear to the brain’s processing centers where meaning is deciphered from these electrical signals.
When hearing loss appears, the brain doesn’t receive sound information in the same levels as before. The leading experts believe that this change in delivery can result in a decline in cognitive health.
Even people with mild hearing loss are at a heightened risk for future cognitive issues like dementia and Alzheimer’s. Treating hearing loss as soon as possible is one way to take control and lower your future risk of a dementia diagnosis.
Schedule A Hearing Exam
If you’ve noticed changes in your hearing health, schedule a visit with us. Our team of highly trained professionals will lead you through a hearing exam to evaluate your current level of hearing and provide the information needed to improve your hearing experience. Together, we’ll reach your healthiest hearing future.