We use our hearing everyday, but the facts around hearing loss are unclear for many people. In fact, the way hearing loss works often seems counterintuitive, while the myths about hearing loss may seem like “common sense”. Unfortunately, falling for these myths can often have serious consequences for your hearing and health.
Myth: Hearing Loss Is Unusual
Let’s start with a simple misunderstanding. Hearing loss is an invisible disability, so it doesn’t appear to be as common as it truly is. Right now, and estimated 48 million Americans live with some form of hearing loss – that’s about 20% of the population, or 1 in 5 people.
Myth: You’re Not Old Enough For Hearing Loss
Hearing loss is often seen as going hand-in-hand with aging. There is some truth to this – the risk of hearing loss increases the older we get. However, a full 40% of Americans with hearing loss are under age 60 – around 19.2 million people.
Sadly, hearing loss can happen at any age, and as the world around us gets noisier and busier, hearing loss statistics are skewing younger and younger. Remember: a significant change in your hearing is worth consulting with your hearing specialist, no matter what age you are.
Myth: Your Hearing Can Heal Itself
Truth: We are used to seeing our bodies heal from injury – from a scabbed over cut to a mended broken bone, many of our body’s cells are capable of renewing, replacing and mending themselves.
Not so, however for the tiny cells that are critical to your hearing. Small and delicate “hair cells” line the walls of the inner ear and detect the vibrations of sound waves in the air. The cells are so finely calibrated they can help us hear sounds softer than a whisper, but this also means that loud sounds can stress them to their breaking point. When these hair cells are injured, they have no capacity to regenerate, repair or replace themselves, so they simply go out of commission, leaving our hearing a little worse off.
This is why most hearing loss is permanent and cannot be recovered. Once your ability to hear has been damaged, you can manage the hearing loss but you cannot reverse it.
Myth: People Just Need To Speak Up
Truth: This myth goes out to all of you struggling with your hearing on a daily basis. While hearing loss can make it seem like the world around you is mumbling, consistently muffled sounds most certainly means that the issue lies within your hearing rather than with who is speaking.
Even if you could turn up the volume knob on everyone in the world, it still might not help you hear. Hearing loss can still make amplified sounds distorted beyond comprehension, which is why treating hearing loss isn’t only about amplifying sound. Hearing aids don’t just work through amplification – they strategically suppress excess noise in your environment and amplify problem sound frequencies to meet the needs of your specific hearing challenges.
Myth: It’s Not Worth Treating Mild or Moderate Hearing Loss
This myth is one of the most important pieces of misinformation to refute. While mild or moderate hearing loss may not seem like a “big enough” problem to treat, ignoring hearing loss at this stage means missing the best stage to begin treating hearing loss.
As hearing loss progresses, it slowly changes the way hearing is processed in our brain and puts more stress on our cognitive capacity. Catching and treating hearing loss means your hearing is less altered and adapting to hearing aids feels (and sounds) more natural. The longer you wait on treating hearing loss, the harder it becomes for the mind to adjust to your new devices.
Myth: Hearing Loss Doesn’t Affect Your Overall Health
Hearing loss is often painless and that can prevent people from connecting the condition to the rest of their health. Your overall health is a complete system and problems with your hearing can initiate other health issues.
Hearing loss has been linked to serious health problems. The rate of falling accidents, depression and dementia are all significantly higher for people with untreated hearing loss. Other conditions like diabetes and cardiac disease may increase your risk of hearing loss by limiting the nourishment that gets to the auditory system. All in all, your health and your hearing health go hand-in-hand.
If you are concerned about your hearing abilities, the first step is to take a hearing test! Contact us today to learn more about our comprehensive hearing health services and to schedule a consultation.