How to recognize hearing loss and what to do about it – The Tennessean
Bringing family around the dinner table for the holidays is something many look forward to before they start another year.
Throughout the nation, families reconnected and unburdened themselves from the struggles of 2016 with one another. However, for about 30 million Americans who suffer from hearing loss, the recent holidays were likely just as taxing as the rest of the year.
It is likely you noticed that you or at least one member of your family had trouble following one-on-one conversations, listening to the game on TV or concentrating on table conversations over the holidays. Hearing loss can impact communication with family and friends, colleagues and customers at work and make being in social situations difficult.
Hearing loss can have severe consequences. The negative stigma surrounding hearing loss contributes to the fact that the condition goes untreated for an average of seven years. All the while, those with hearing loss could also be developing mental health issues as a result.
A study by the Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders revealed that the prevalence of depression increased in participants as their hearing impairment worsened. Another study, by The National Council on Aging compared users of hearing aids with non-users and found that non-users are considerably less likely to participate in social activities.
On the other hand, hearing aid users reported significant improvements in many areas of their lives, from their relationships at home to their sense of independence. These studies show that in order for your loved one to live life to the fullest, it is crucial they can hear and engage with others unimpeded.
Some common, recognizable signs of hearing loss include seeming withdrawn in social situations, having to repeat information to them or noticing they seem confused during group conversations. If you noticed these signs in a loved one during the holidays, I urge you to talk with them.
If you believe they are living with hearing loss, it is important to note they may deny it. More than two of three of older, hearing aid non-users surveyed by NCOA say, “My hearing is not bad enough,” or “I can get along without one.” One in five explained that, “it would make me feel old,” or “I’m too embarrassed to wear one.â
When talking with a loved one about their potential hearing loss, be sure to explain to them how common hearing loss really is, and implore them to schedule a hearing test.
Sometimes difficulty hearing can stem from a temporary issue, such as excess ear wax, an infection or a perforated ear drum. Many times, these issues can be corrected medically, without the need for hearing aids. Itâs best to have their hearing tested by a professional who can tell the difference between temporary hearing loss and permanent hearing loss.
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force â an independent group of national experts in prevention and evidence-based medicine â recommends that everyone over age 50 have a baseline hearing screening. A proper hearing exam uses sounds, tones and speech to test hearing. It must be performed in the right environment and analyzed correctly. Results, which are plotted on an audiogram, will indicate whether your loved one is a candidate for hearing aids.
By ensuring your loved ones are hearing to their fullest ability, you are providing them with what they need to continue living a healthy, happy life, both physically and mentally.
Stephen A. Hallenbeck, Au.D, is a Principal Audiologist in Global Audiology. Founded in 1940, Beltone is part of the GN Hearing Care Group.