Listen Up: Hearing Well
Means Staying Well
Hearing loss can have serious consequences to your health beyond the frustration of not being able to hear. It can result in mental health issues, physical health issues and major safety concerns.
Hearing loss can lead to:
- Depression due to isolation
- Faster cognitive decline resulting in dementia due to isolation
- Significant increase in risk of falling due to balance issues
- Paranoia due to inability to hear environmental sounds and cues
- Increased stress from struggling to understand
Thus as we age, it’s important to keep tabs on how well we are hearing. Age-related hearing loss happens gradually and typically over a decade or more. It often goes unnoticed until it becomes significant, which for nearly half the population is as young as age 75. Though it cannot be reversed, hearing loss can often be successfully treated. And the earlier it is discovered, the easier it is for patients to adapt to management techniques, hearing aids or other assistive listening devices. (Hearing aids and other listening devices have improved greatly over the last decade in function as well as fashion.)
Signs you may be experiencing some age-related hearing loss are:
- You have trouble following a group conversation
- You often think people are mumbling
- You find yourself asking people to repeat things
- You especially have troubling understanding women and children (higher voices)
- You have trouble understanding conversations on the phone
- You find yourself stressed at or avoiding large gatherings
- You have ringing in your ears
- You are experiencing dizziness, loss of balance, or suffering from vertigo
- Others comment that your TV or radio is loud
- Your ears itch, have pain, or leak fluid Other factors that can contribute to hearing loss are a family history of hearing loss, diabetes, heart disease, and circulation or thyroid issues.
If any of the warning signs above describe your experience, inform your primary physician. They will be best at evaluating your symptoms and determining whether you should see:
- An otolaryngologist—A physician specializing in the ears, nose and throat (ENT)
- An audiologist—A health-care professional who specialized in identifying, treating (with hearing aids or other devices), and monitoring auditory disorders
- Or a hearing-aide specialist—A licensed professional who can test hearing and select and fit hearing aids.
Your hearing makes a huge difference in the quality of your life, your health, and your ability to remain independent. Having regular hearing check-ups is an important part of aging well.