Have you ever been so frustrated with someone because you’ve repeated the same sentence 3 times – each time louder than the time before? Yet you still receive a reply of, “What did you say?” Perhaps you’ve been on the other end, frustrated that you have to keep asking someone to speak up?
Well, don’t pull your hair out because you’re not alone. This is a common scenario happening across the nation multiple times a day. Affecting more than 9 million Americans over the age of 65 and 10 million 45-64, hearing loss is one of the most widespread chronic conditions. It can be exasperating for those we are trying to communicate with as well as have overwhelming consequences for those of us actually suffering from hearing loss.
Millions of us think our hearing isn’t bad enough yet or we can get along without a hearing aid. We are either too embarrassed or it’s too expensive. We let vanity and denial stop us from treatment that could improve our quality of life.
This is unfortunate because, when left untreated, hearing loss has serious social and emotional consequences. Hearing-impaired adults age 50 and older with untreated hearing loss are less likely to participate in organized social activities. Social withdraw can result in depression, anxiety, and minor degrees of intellectual impairment. Additional emotional distress comes from the perception that other people get angry at them for no reason and this can lead to paranoia. In some cases, continuous hearing loss might be misinterpreted as confusion, forgetfulness, or a sign of dementia.
Because communication is essential for growth and happiness in everyday living, it is important to put embarrassment aside and identify the signs of hearing loss.
Common Symptoms of Hearing Loss:
- Frequently misinterpreting what is said to you
- Requesting words/phrases to be repeated regularly
- Constantly increasing the radio or TV Volume
- Conversations in noisy settings (like restaurants) are hard to follow
- Voices often sound muffled, indistinct, or distorted
- Difficulty in understanding women and children more than men
- Guessing what others are saying to you from context
- Tuning out in large gatherings because it is too difficult to keep up with conversations
- Realizing you are speaking loudly, due to difficulty hearing your own voice
If you or a loved one experience any of these symptoms, talk to your doctor about a hearing evaluation. Who knows, you may find the issue is as simple as a wax blockage. Let your doctor recommend a solution that will improve you or your loved one’s quality of life drastically.
Research & Community Education