Delaying Treatment For Hearing Loss Can Harm More Than Just Your Ears

Delaying treatment for hearing loss can harm more than just your ears.

Hearing loss can have a disruptive effect on daily life for the millions of individuals who experience it and research indicates that many adults are prolonging the adverse conditions by not seeking treatment.

“Many hard-of-hearing people battle silently with their invisible hearing difficulties, straining to stay connected to the world around them, reluctant to seek help,” reports David Myers, a psychology professor at Hope College in Michigan who has hearing loss.

According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), around 15 percent of American adults — about 37.5 million individuals — report some trouble with their hearing. Although hearing aids are known to improve the hearing and communication skills of individuals with hearing loss, a large number of people who would benefit from the devices do not use them.

The NIDCD estimate that among adults, age 70 and older, who would benefit from using a hearing aid, less than 1 in 3 have ever used one (30 percent), and only 16 percent of adults, ages 20-69, who would benefit have tried using one.

Like many people with hearing loss, Myers was resistant to getting treatment for his condition. Although his hearing loss began when he was a teenager, it was not until he reached his 40s that he first got a hearing aid.

The National Center for Health Statistics state that people wait for an average of six years from the first signs of hearing loss before receiving treatment. Myers says that this delay can be due to denial, vanity and a lack of awareness of how much hearing is impaired.

Hearing aid use can reduce depression and dementia.

In a study by the National Council on Aging, researchers tested 2,304 people with hearing loss and found that those who did not use hearing aids were 50 percent more likely to have depression than those who use the devices.
Hearing aid users were also more likely to take part in regular social activities. Social isolation among people with hearing loss could increase the risk of dementia, Myers suggests, citing an earlier study published in the Archives of Neurology, which indicated hearing loss in itself could be a risk factor for the condition.

“Anger, frustration, depression, and anxiety are all common among people who find themselves hard of hearing,” Myers explains. “Getting people to use the latest in hearing aid technology can help them regain control of their life, achieve emotional stability, and improve cognitive functioning.”

One way to combat the psychological effects of hearing loss is to increase access to hearing systems in public spaces. Myers suggests the hearing loop system that is popular in the U.K. and Scandinavia could help people with hearing loss become more social. The system enables hearing aids to serve as wireless speakers and is particularly effective in areas where there is typically a lot of background noise or reverberant sound, such as train stations and auditoriums.

“Making public spaces directly hearing aid accessible is psychologically important for people with hearing loss,” Myers advises.

Fast facts about hearing loss:
• For every 1,000 children born in the U.S., 2-3 have a detectable level of hearing loss.
• Hearing aids primarily benefit people whose hearing loss is caused by damage to small sensory cells in the ear.
• Damage to these cells can occur through aging, disease or injury.
• Only 16 percent of adults, ages 20-69, who could benefit from using a hearing aid have ever tried one.

Call HearUSA 800-203-7048 to schedule a hearing screening and take advantage of special AARP member discount pricing on a wide of Oticon digital hearing aids!

Source: Medical News Today, August, 2015.

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