Many people make assumptions about hearing loss that just aren’t true. Here is the truth about four common misconceptions.
MYTH: Hearing loss only affects the elderly.
It’s true that age-related hearing loss—also called presbycusis—impacts almost 1 in 2 adults over age 65, to varying degrees. However, hearing loss can occur at any age. Unfortunately, the stigma that “hearing loss equates to old age” often prevents people from seeking help and improving their lives.
Certain occupations put people at higher risk for hearing loss, such as military jobs, mining, manufacturing, agriculture, transportation, construction, carpentry, and plumbing. Other types of hearing loss are hereditary or can be the result of medications, injuries or illnesses, even from years earlier.
No matter your age, if you are experiencing any of the signs of hearing loss, request a free hearing screening and find out more about your condition.
MYTH: Hearing aids completely restore hearing.
Hearing aids receive sound through a microphone, convert the sound waves into electrical signals, and send them to an amplifier, which increases the power of the signals before sending them to the ear through a speaker. Through this process, a hearing aid can considerably improve a user’s ability to hear both low and high frequency sounds making it easier to communicate with and comprehend others. The truth is that hearing aids help users hear better, albeit differently than they once did.
It takes time to get used to the feeling of the device as well as time for the brain to re-learn how to interpret and filter the array of newly audible sounds. Eventually, the body and brain do adapt, and the hearing aid becomes a normal part of life. That said, even with well-fitted, properly adjusted hearing aids, a user may experience some feedback or still struggle to hear clearly in certain situations.
The most important thing is to start the process with realistic expectations and an open mind.
MYTH: Hearing loss is typically diagnosed by a primary care doctor.
Many people don’t believe that they have hearing loss, because their family doctor hasn’t mentioned it. In fact, only 14 percent of physicians routinely screen for hearing loss during a physical. Furthermore, most people with a hearing impairment hear pretty well in a quiet environment like a doctor’s office, so hearing loss often goes undetected. Additionally, primary care physicians are not trained to understand the nature of hearing loss or to pick up on the subtle signals.
After 50, it’s important to get a hearing screening every year. Younger people should see a hearing care specialist if they are noticing any signs of hearing loss.
MYTH: Hearing loss doesn’t affect overall health.
Research from John Hopkins University links hearing loss to an increased risk of developing dementia and depression. However, it also indicates that correcting it can improve memory and mood. Another study showed that hearing loss can adversely impact balance, which can cause falls and other accidents.
The takeaway: hearing loss doesn’t only affect your ability to hear; it can cause a slew of other mental and physical issues.