The estimated number of Americans over the age of fifty is around 110 million. According to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), about 37 million of them, or one third, are living with undiagnosed hearing loss, which is treatable. Northern Utah residents are among the faces behind these statistics, which concerns me greatly because they do not get the help they need.
Why aren’t people over 50 trying to get help?
There are a variety of reasons why people over 50 aren’t getting help. Basically, they aren’t looking for it because of four common misconceptions or myths related to hearing loss. Let’s help set the record straight by examining each one and providing the truth.
MYTH #1: If you can’t hear, just turn up the volume.
TRUTH: Amplifying distorted hearing only increases the intensity of the distortion. The majority of hearing loss issues relate to clarity rather than loudness. Some examples include:
- Struggling to hear with background noise is evidence of decreased capacity to distinguish close and distant sounds.
- Failure to differentiate one consonant from another contributes to miscommunication.
- Inadequate processing of high frequencies makes it difficult to understand phone conversations or conversations with women and children.
An audiologist can identify all these issues and provide you with the best treatment options to help you hear more clearly at normal volume levels.
MYTH #2: My hearing loss isn’t really bothering anyone.
TRUTH: Untreated hearing loss contributes to mental health issues like depression, anxiety, and social isolation. Hearing loss increases your risk of developing a variety of physical health issues. It adds stress to relationships at home and work because you become more dependent on family and friends, further complicating your life.
In reality, you are the one most affected by hearing loss. Early detection and treatment will limit the damaging effects.
MYTH #3: If I really had a hearing problem, I’d be the first to know.
TRUTH: Actually, you’ll probably be the last to know. You’ve heard references to watching grass grow or paint dry. Identifying or recognizing a hearing loss is similar to both of these; it comes on slowly and goes unnoticed until you begin to struggle with your hearing. Family and friends usually recognize the problem before the person struggling with hearing loss does.
Before hearing loss becomes a debilitating problem, schedule a hearing test. The information provided to audiologists through a hearing test can help identify what you cannot.
MYTH #4: Do hearing tests provide any useful information?
TRUTH: You don’t recognize that you are losing your hearing because your brain adapts and compensates for inadequate sound processing as it deteriorates. In addition to identifying hearing loss, hearing tests produce plenty of useful information, including:
- the cause and extent of your hearing loss
- data necessary for programming hearing aids
- identify treatment options other than hearing aids
- establish a baseline against which to measure future changes
Even when your test indicates limited or no hearing loss, a hearing assessment with an audiologist is an excellent opportunity to educate yourself about hearing protection, the use of ototoxic medications, which damage your hearing, or other preventative solutions.
House of Hearing Encourages Frequent Hearing Tests
Whether you are experiencing hearing loss or not, the prevalence of undiagnosed hearing loss in individuals over the age of fifty suggests the need for a yearly hearing assessment.
House of Hearing encourages over fifty residents in Northern Utah to schedule frequent hearing tests to identify hearing loss before it becomes a problem. Contact us to schedule a comprehensive hearing assessment or give us a call at 801-657-4175 for more information about our Tele-Audiology consultations or Curbside Appointments.