Hearing loss affects more than 10 percent of the U.S. population. More than half of the population in their 70s and 80 percent of those in their 80s have a least mild-moderate hearing loss.
Recent studies indicate that untreated hearing loss is associated with increased risk of depression, dementia, accidental falls, and cardiovascular diseases. The risk of dementia was increased by 50 percent over 5 years for those with untreated hearing loss, and the risk of depression was increased by 40 percent. Hearing loss is associated with social isolation, which can lead to depression and dementia.
Hearing loss is often associated with balance issues, as our inner ears are responsible for hearing and balance. We use our ears to position ourselves in space. Also, people with hearing loss are less aware of sounds around them, and may be startled and fall by someone or something that approaches silently from behind.
Unfortunately, over 85 percent of those with hearing loss are untreated. While some causes of hearing loss such as cerumen impaction or fluid in the ears are easily treated and reversible, the most common cause of hearing loss is age related nerve loss. The only treatment for age related hearing loss, presbycusis, are hearing aids.
Properly fitted hearing aids restore hearing and allow you to rejoin the conversations of your family and friends. However, hearing aids are not like eyeglasses, which ‘work’ immediately. Hearing aids are ‘fitted’ by audiologists, and may require several adjustments for optimal use. Newer hearing aids have increased functionality, allowing you to listen to your phone or music directly through the hearing aid, and can adjust automatically to different noise environments.
You wouldn’t attempt to read if you had difficulty seeing. Hear better to live better.