Hearing loss is a serious condition you may not even know you are living with. This is because hearing loss can develop slowly over time, due to old age (presbycusis) or noise induced hearing loss, due to excessive noise at work or recreation. It is often the people around you who notice you are missing conversation and first mention it. If people around you are suggesting this, then this is a good time to seek treatment.
This is a great time to deal with your hearing loss, as May is ASHA’s Better Hearing and Speech Month. The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) uses each May to raise awareness and encourage people to seek treatment for their communication issues. This year the theme of BHSM is “Communication at work’ which focuses on the importance of healthy communication at home and at work.
It is estimated that more than 48 million people are affected by hearing loss in the United States alone. This makes the odds that you or someone you know deals with some degree of hearing loss. As hearing loss develops, certain tones or sounds such as consonants start to diminish first, putting stress on your brain which processes all the sounds you detect. As your brain struggles to process conversation with limited information, simple conversations with family, friends and co-workers becomes strained and exhausting. Social situations may become so exhausting that people often go out of their way to avoid them which can lead to depression and self-isolation.
Living with untreated hearing loss during this time of social distancing can be more dangerous than ever. Lack of social and audio stimulation can leave many feeling isolated and alone. Findings from a study conducted by the American Academy of Audiology showed that adults with untreated hearing loss were more likely to feel anxiety and depression, and were less likely to attend social gatherings or participate in group activities.
While you won’t be attending many social gatherings while sheltering at home, it is still important to reach out to friends and family regularly via telephone and video chat. However, one side effect of untreated hearing loss is difficulty hearing over the phone. With older models of hearing aids this has continued to be a problem. Newer hearing aids are now coming equipped with Bluetooth technology, which transmits sound wirelessly from your phone or smart device, directly to your hearing aids. This ensures that you can hear clearly over the phone and won’t miss any part of conversation and can feel engaged as you keep up with people you love, even if you can’t be together in person at this moment.
As Americans shelter in place, many of us have the unique opportunity to slow down and spend quality time with our family in a way we haven’t before. This is a wonderful time to reconnect and bond with the people you love at home, but if you are living with untreated hearing loss, this can put a barrier on connecting. In fact, hearing loss if ignored hearing loss can put a strain on your most precious relationships. Everyone can become frustrated as you constantly ask people to repeat themselves, and interrupt for clarification. When you are living with untreated hearing loss, intimate moments in conversation slowly dwindle over time, causing rifts in relationships that are difficult to heal.
The most common treatment for hearing loss is hearing aids. However, the average American waits 5 to 7 years to treat their hearing loss. Hearing aids will make it much easier to hear the people you love whether it is over the phone or at home. Use this May’s Better Hearing and Speech Month as a call to action and contact us for a hearing test. We can find the best treatment for your hearing loss and help you get through this time, hearing your best.