The holiday season is here, and this means for many large gatherings with family and friends. At the last big gathering did you notice that you struggled to hear people more than usual? It’s common to struggle to hear at a noisy party. In fact, if it was so loud that you had to shout to talk to someone standing three feet or less from you it was probably loud enough to be causing hearing loss. Your struggles with hearing loss may also point to larger hearing issues. Now that a new year is almost here it is time to look forward and imagine what you’d like to manifest for the next year. If it seems that hearing is a nagging issue, it’s most likely time to commit to starting off this next year by scheduling a hearing exam. It’s more than just investing in better hearing—it’s investing in your emotional, cognitive, and physical health.
Hearing loss and your relationships
When hearing loss sets in, it often starts slowly and develops gradually. This can make it difficult to self-diagnose as your brain rationalizes the loss. However, just because you aren’t aware of hearing loss, doesn’t mean that it isn’t affecting you. The people in your life may notice. Though they may not be able to put their finger on exactly what is different, communication issues can start to put rifts in all the relationships across your life.
At home an undiagnosed hearing loss is often misinterpreted as you not paying attention, you are being disinterested or distant. In loved ones this can start to build resentment and a distance which is difficult to repair. For those of us still in the workforce, your employers and coworkers will notice as well. Misunderstandings and mistakes in the workplace can impact your success and earnings. For those who put off addressing hearing loss because treatment is too expensive it is important to consider the far-reaching effects. In fact, a study from the Better Hearing Institute, it’s estimated that those with hearing loss make on average $30,000 less annually than contemporaries with normal or treated hearing!
Investing in your cognitive health
It’s common for memory issues to be a bit more common as we age. In fact, we hate to hear it, but often our cognitive health slowly starts to decline as early as our mid 40’s. It is important to do what we can to delay the process and even worse lower our chances of developing Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia. One way to be proactive about this is by addressing your hearing health. A prominent study from Johns Hopkins University found that even the degree of your hearing loss increased your risk of developing dementia. For those with what is considered a moderate case of hearing loss ( 26-40 dBA) it doubled the risk. For those with a severe hearing loss (41-70 dBA) it tripled the risk and those with a profound loss (71-90 dBA) increased the risk five-fold! When the brain struggles to receive sounds from the ears to the brain it causes us to work harder to follow conversation- increasing our cognitive load and making us exhausted, frustrated and less social. In addition to the importance of regular socialization for challenging our brain, keeping us quick and putting us in new situations more often, when sounds can’t reach our brains, it causes auditory deprivation. The cells of our brain which were dedicated to receiving these sounds are more likely to wither from in use, contributing to brain atrophy. What is important to remember is that the sooner you diagnose and treat a hearing loss, the lower your chances of suffering irreversible cognitive decline.
Treat your hearing loss and stay active
Aside from helping us hear, our hearing helps us stay connected to our environment. We may not be aware how subtle sounds act as cues to keep us aware of our surroundings and keep us safe. Therefore, those with untreated hearing loss suffer higher rates of falls and accidents than those of us who treat our hearing.
Start this year right by addressing your emotional, cognitive, and physical health all at once. Contact us to schedule a hearing test today!