Hearing loss is a serious condition and often overlooked. Commonly referred to as an invisible disability Over 5% of the world’s population – or 466 million people deal with disabling hearing loss. Hearing loss isn’t just an issue with your ears but affects many aspects of your life.
The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) celebrates Better Hearing and Speech Month each May “to raise awareness and promote treatment that can improve quality of life for those who experience problems with speaking, hearing or understanding.” This year’s theme is “Communication at Work,” which focuses on the importance of dealing with your hearing loss, speech and language hurdles, so you can communicate your best.
Dangers of Untreated Hearing Loss
It can be hard at times to diagnose hearing loss on your own. This is because hearing loss develops slowly over time. Often people won’t admit they have a problem with their hearing and even then it often takes people 5-10 years before they seek treatment. The longer you wait to deal with hearing loss the worse the condition can become. As you struggle to hear and respond accordingly to conversation the more you may find yourself choosing to avoid social situations all together.
Years of struggling through social situations can strain your relationships at work and at home, putting huge barriers between you and your family and lowering your productivity at work. Some studies have even linked untreated hearing loss to a higher risk of cognitive impairment and even dementia.
Denial About Hearing Loss
While the effects of untreated hearing loss become more severe over time, denial can be a major barrier to getting proper treatment. The best treatment for hearing loss is hearing aids, which amplify the world around you and send it to your ears. Hearing aids have been found time and time again to slow or stop the harmful effects of hearing loss. Perhaps you are wondering why someone would deny hearing loss when the implications can be such a risk to your health and happiness?
Here are some common excuses:
- Many do not understand the serious implication of hearing loss. It is a common misconception that hearing loss only affects your ears, when it actually has consequences for your physical and mental health, including insomnia, anxiety, depression, self-isolation, high blood pressure, higher risk of falls and even dementia.
- Many are skeptical of hearing aids. People believe that they cause feedback, make their voice sound abrasive, and can even make them appear old. While hearing aids do take a little bit of time to get used to, the ability to communicate clearly will help you stay connected!
Help Someone You Love Defy Denial
Many people with hearing loss wait years to seek treatment, in some cases living with their symptoms for a decade or more. These are the valuable years of your life, missing conversation, putting wedges in relationships and opportunity.
If you know someone who may be living with hearing loss it can be very helpful to suggest to them to seek out a hearing test. However, this must be done gently, especially with those who are prone to anger and denial at the mention of their untreated disability. There are ways to make a strong case for treatment without causing resentment for your loved one with hearing loss.
- What is holding your loved one back? Consider all the things that may be holding your loved one back from treatment. Common excuses include factors that are psychological, financial, or emotional. Be prepared before you bring up the topic with research and possible solutions.
- Provide examples. Speak from experience and tell them in a loving way how you worry for their health. Make it clear that their hearing loss affects you. Be ready to give examples of situations in which you have noticed that there might be a problem.
Take a Hearing Test
Our team provides comprehensive hearing tests and can help you find the best hearing aids for your individual hearing loss if one is detected. If you or a loved one is struggling with hearing loss, use this May as a time to take the first step toward better hearing health!