Current research from the Archives of Internal Medicine suggests that one in five Americans (ages 12 years and above) suffer from hearing impairment in a single or both ears. This makes up around 20% of the American population, and this result is based on those who admit to having hearing loss, out of which 19% are between the ages of 45-64 and 30% are between the ages of 65-74. After 75 years, this percentage rises to 44%. Broken down by sex, it was found that men tend to admit to having a hearing loss at a higher rate than women, while a racial analysis depicts that Black participants have a lower rate of hearing loss than Caucasians. The alarming part of these results is that even though people were aware and ready to admit that they had a hearing impairment, only one in seven participants used hearing devices.
The more significant problem than hearing loss itself is the admittance of having a hearing loss. People are often in denial about accepting their hearing difficulties because it can become an indication of oncoming old age, a loss of social status, or peer isolation. Those in denial may delay getting their hearing tested simply out of reluctance to admit to their hearing loss, which can in turn increase the severity of the hearing impairment. It is time to confront yourself with these five candid questions that can help determine whether or not it is time for you to get your hearing tested:
- Is it difficult for you to follow the dialogues in certain television series, especially ones in which the accents or dialects are different from your own?
- Do you detest answering your telephone because you are unable to hear what the other person is saying clearly?
- Do you feel that people around you are constantly mumbling or talking too quietly?
- Do you avoid having conversations with people when you are in crowded places or are seated at a distance from the person with whom you wish to speak?
- Do you often ask your friends, family, or colleagues to repeat what they just said or ask them to speak louder?
If you found that most of your answers to the above questions were in the affirmative, it is likely that you have a hearing problem that you have been neglecting. The severity of the hearing loss does not impact denial rates, since those with severe hearing loss are as likely to deny their hearing impairment compared to those with mild or medium amounts of hearing loss.
Research suggests that the most common factors that result in hearing loss are continued exposure to excessively loud noises, genetics, head injuries, or other medical illnesses. Studies have also identified the top five reasons which lead to people not taking any steps in order to rectify their hearing impairment:
- People often refrain from treating their hearing loss out of fear of being stigmatized by others in their environment. People may be afraid of being made fun of or fear admitting to their advancing age, due to which they refrain from treating their hearing problems.
- A common deterrent from treating hearing loss is the financial consideration. Hearing aids are often expensive and more importantly, not covered by many insurance companies. This can place a financial burden on many families that would rather use the money elsewhere.
- People often have a negative attitude towards hearing devices and some even believe that they are not helpful at all. People who have worn hearing aids in the past may provide others with negative feedback due to the clunky construction of traditional hearing aids. This negative perception towards hearing aids can also result from a mistaken belief arising out of ignorance or a lack of information about the genuine usefulness of hearing aids.
- Several Americans are hard-working employees leading busy lives and are often left with no time to think about their own needs since they are busy striving to fulfill their family’s needs. As such, stopping to invest in hearing aids can be a time-consuming, expensive affair which can be a big hassle for the individual who is constantly overwhelmed with tasks throughout their busy day.
- People often lack sufficient exposure or knowledge about hearing devices, which can deter them from seeking help to rectify their hearing difficulties. They may rely on the biased advice given by people who have had negative experiences with hearing aids, which can further reduce their inclination to seek help.
No matter what your belief is about treating hearing loss, the fact is that addressing your hearing needs is extremely important. Here are five important reasons that can help increase your motivation towards rectifying your hearing loss:
- Hearing loss negatively impacts the brain structure and over time it can shrink the density of the brain’s gray matter and result in brain atrophy.
- Hearing loss can lead to significant difficulties in memory formation and recollection due to cognitive overload.
- Hearing loss has a strong correlation with the increased chances of developing Dementia and cognitive decline.
- Hearing loss can result in social isolation, depression and anxiety.
- Hearing loss can increase the risk of physical injury through falling as a result of poor balance caused by disrupted hearing.
Do not neglect your hearing loss since it can escalate into major medical and psychological ailments. Seek the help of an audiologist today to get your hearing tested and address your hearing needs in time to gain the most out of your hearing experience.