Did you know that hearing is our fastest sense? The brain takes a quarter of a second to process an image, but with sound, it only takes 0.05 seconds to be processed. Unfortunately, for people with changing hearing abilities, sounds may not appear as clearly as they once did. This may be an indication of hearing loss.
Hearing loss is the third most common health condition in the US, after arthritis and heart disease, and most often, it is caused by aging or long exposure to loud noise. The Hearing Loss Association of America reports that it takes an average of seven years from the time someone recognizes symptoms of hearing loss before they decide to seek help – usually by taking a hearing test. In the meantime, leaving hearing loss untreated could lead to many adverse physical and emotional consequences, from dementia to depression to social isolation.
As a gradual and invisible disease, it may be difficult to identify hearing loss. Here are signs to watch out for – both for you or a loved one.
Difficulties with Speech Recognition
Have you been struggling with conversations? Maybe you’re struggling to understand what your friends are saying. You’ve started to feel self-conscious at how often you ask people to repeat what they’ve said. Hearing loss often times interferes the ability to hear higher-frequency voices; for older Americans who are grandparents and are experiencing hearing loss, this might lead to isolation from their grandchildren.
Because it interferes with speech recognition, hearing loss has negative effects on interpersonal relationships as well. With spouses, partners, friends, and family members, a feeling of frustration might arise when clear communication is hindered by hearing loss. In most cases, the biggest problem reported is the challenge of verbal communication, whether in group conversations, with many voices chiming in, or within a busy restaurant, party, or family gathering.
A common complaint amongst people with hearing loss is “I can hear, but I can’t understand.” In other words, it’s not that they can’t make out the sounds of speech – they just struggle to understand what’s being said. With speech recognition issues, people may miss certain words or phrases, or they may rely on lip-reading.
Sounds are Less Clear than Usual
Have you been cranking up the volume on your devices? Have your family members asked you to turn down the volume? Maybe you’ve been turning the volume up higher on your TV or car radio. You’ve avoided the movies and live theater performances because you feel like you’re missing out on part of the experience. Certain sounds may be muffled, or you may experience gaps in sound in your environment.
Again, because the issue isn’t volume – but recognition – turning up the volume doesn’t always help if you are experience hearing loss. Though sounds may become louder, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they are clearer and more recognizable when you’re attempting to make sense of them.
Avoiding Social Situations
Hearing loss can be an isolating condition. Because communication becomes difficult, people tend to withdraw socially after some years of untreated hearing loss. Certain people may find it difficult to discuss their hearing issues with colleagues in a professional setting, at the risk that it might affect their jobs. Individuals who experience hearing loss also find themselves isolated socially, whether it is due to challenges of conversations in big groups or loud spaces, or a decreased desire to pursue their favorite activities, hobbies, and cultural events. Over time, this could also lead to emotional consequences, such as feeling anxiety and depression.
Why It’s Important to Address Hearing Loss ASAP
Most people who experience hearing loss are aware of the occurrence, but are hesitant to seek treatment. At the same time, the family and friends of individuals who experience hearing loss will have noticed that there have been changes but do not want to broach this sensitive subject. However, the reality is that 48 million Americans (20%) experience hearing loss, and there is advanced technology to treat this condition.
If you believe you, or someone you love, is experiencing hearing loss, there is no reason to wait. The first step is to contact us at Coweta Hearing and schedule a hearing test. With so many remarkable products to treat varying levels of hearing loss, you will hear with much more clarity in no time.