Approximately 20% of Americans have some measure of hearing loss, but unfortunately, only 20% of people with hearing loss seek out treatment. While specific treatment options for hearing loss vary wildly from patient to patient, the starting place for the treatment of hearing loss is generally the same – it all starts with a hearing test.
A quick hearing test with a hearing healthcare professional can identify whether or not someone has some measurable amount of hearing loss and can be the impetus necessary for someone to seek further treatment. If you or someone you love is unsure of whether or not they should schedule a hearing test, consider these three facts:
- Hearing tests are quick, easy, and generally free! A hearing test appointment can generally be completed within an hour and the test itself is painless and non-invasive. Plus, most hearing healthcare professionals offer free or low-cost hearing tests so there is little financial barrier to making an appointment. Hearing tests have the potential to identify hearing loss and can encourage people to seek life-changing treatment.
- Untreated hearing loss can cause a host of physical, mental, and social issues. When you have hearing loss, you lose more than just your ability to hear.
Untreated hearing loss is linked to a number of physical health issues, including an increased risk of falling. Since balance is derived from the workings of the inner ear, hearing loss and overall poor ear health can negatively affect balance, which can increase one’s risk for falls.
Moreover, hearing loss can be a sign of other untreated conditions, such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Thus, a hearing test that identifies some hearing loss could be an early warning sign of other ailments. For older people, in particular, falls can be dangerous and significantly reduce one’s long-term mobility.
In addition to the physical repercussions of untreated hearing loss, people with hearing loss can be affected by a variety of mental health and social problems. Socially, people with untreated hearing loss can feel isolated because of their decreased ability to engage in or follow along with large group conversations. This decreased engagement has been known to contribute to an increased risk for depression and social isolation in people with hearing loss.
Finally, untreated hearing loss can increase one’s risk for developing dementia and Alzheimer’s. If hearing loss goes untreated for too long, particularly in older populations, it can cause increased shrinking of brain tissue critical for cognitive functioning. For people with moderate hearing loss, they are nearly three times more likely to experience these issues. Therefore, untreated hearing loss can greatly affect your quality of life.
- Untreated hearing loss can affect your safety. If you have decreased hearing abilities, you are less likely to be able to hear the cacophony of sounds we experience on a day to day basis. While this might more frequently affect your ability to listen to music or engage in conversations, hearing loss can make it difficult or impossible to hear emergency sounds, like a fire alarm or tornado siren. If you seek out help with your hearing loss, you can have a conversation with your hearing healthcare professional about what technologies might best work for you to combat these issues.
Hearing tests are generally low-cost, easy, and convenient ways to stay on top of your hearing health. People with hearing loss can potentially avoid a number of negatively associated problems by seeking out early and regular treatment from a hearing healthcare professional.
If you are concerned about your or a loved one’s hearing health, then don’t delay in scheduling your next hearing test. If you do have hearing loss, a hearing healthcare provider can discuss your next steps and a possible treatment plan so you can stay active and engaged in your life.