What is hearing loss?
Hearing loss is an inability to hear certain sounds. Some people find they can no longer hear high pitched sounds like female voices or young children and certain types of bird song. Other find they struggle to hear voices in noisy environments such as restaurants and pubs.
Sometimes hearing loss can be temporary like after being exposed to loud music at a concert or an obstruction in an ear canal – such as a buildup of ear wax.
Quite often though it is a permanent deterioration in the sensory part of the ear called the cochlea which often occurs later in life or after exposure to intensely loud sounds like gunfire.
Depending on the degree of hearing loss peoples difficulties range from something simple like an unfamiliar accent on a television program through to struggling to hear even when someone raises their voice.
If a person is suffering from a mild hearing loss they are likely to have specific difficulties that they may not even notice such as soft speech, as they may feel people have started to mumble.
If a person has a moderate degree of hearing loss they may have more difficulty with a range of voices, some even at close range. This level of hearing loss will definitely pose a problem in noisy environment and may even cause someone to start to withdraw from certain situations due to the difficulty with communication.
If a person is suffering from a severe hearing loss they may only hear loud speech – causing people around them to need to raise their voice to be heard. They may struggle to hear things like a door bell or the telephone ringing. They will also find they benefit from subtitles on the television to be able to understand the speech.
Are you experiencing symptoms?
Common signs of hearing loss
- Asking others to repeat themselves
- Turning up the TV or radio to volume levels others find loud
- Having trouble understanding conversation in noisy places
- Feeling like other people mumble or slur their words
- Having trouble hearing women’s and children’s voices
- Having trouble hearing on the telephone
- Avoiding social situations that were once enjoyable
- Having difﬁculty following a fast-moving conversation
- Missing important information in meetings
- Being told by others that you have hearing loss
7 reasons to treat hearing loss
Increase earning power
Improve communication in relationships
Making communication easier
reduce emotional instability
Increase sense of control over life events
Greater physical health
Maintain ability to engage in group situations
4 ways hearing loss affects brain health.
Growing evidence indicates that older adults with hearing loss are more likely to experience the symptoms of cognitive decline.
Hearing loss leads to social isolation
Untreated hearing loss has long been linked to increased social isolation and loneliness, which studies have shown are well-established risk factors for Alzheimer’s and dementia
Hearing loss shifts your cognitive load
Imagine your brain has a finite amount of fuel. As hearing becomes more difficult, you use more “fuel” to comprehend what you’re listening to — meaning you have less for memory and decision-making. Scientists refer to it as the “cognitive load theory.”
Hearing loss accelerates brain shrinkage
Believe it or not — our brains shrink as we age. But MRIs of people with hearing loss show the brain “shrinks” faster than normal, likely due to lack of stimulation
Treating hearing loss can reduce the risk of cognitive decline and dementia
Two studies, one completed in 2015 and one in 2017 determined that treating hearing loss (with hearing aids) can reduce the risk of cognitive decline associated with hearing loss(1) and can help prevent dementia(2). The benefits of wearing hearing aids may also include(3): reduced mental fatigue, decreased feelings of isolation and depression, improved ability to do several things at once, improved memory, attention and focus, improved communication skills.