Hearing Loss: It impacts your overall health
Hearing loss currently affects more than 36 million Americans. Although hearing problems are commonly associated with the normal aging process, more than half of all hearing-impaired persons are younger than 65. With the increased use of earbuds, the number of Americans experiencing hearing loss at a young age is growing.
On average, most Americans consider hearing loss a condition that is simply associated with aging, and don’t know how to recognize the condition or who is qualified to help treat the condition. In an effort to raise public awareness for the growing number of Americans suffering from hearing loss, Experience Hearing Center is celebrating Better Hearing Month this May.
As part of Better Hearing Month, Experience Hearing Center, encourages its area communities to be more aware of hearing health.
“Hearing loss can be caused by exposure to loud noises, ear infections, trauma, or ear disease; harm to the inner ear and ear drum; illness or certain medications; and deterioration due to normal aging process,” says Richard Leroux, B.S., BC-HIS.
You hear with your brain, not your ears. This direct relationship between your hearing and brain function is disrupted when you suffer from hearing loss. Studies show that individuals with hearing loss experience a 30 to 40 percent accelerated rate of cognitive decline.
“If you struggle to hear, you’re more likely to withdraw from social activities or situations,” says Leroux. “A hearing loss can make an individual feel isolated and less likely to communicate effectively with family and care takers; which studies have shown increases the risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia.”
A study published April 26 of this year in the journal JAMA Otolaryngology – Head & Neck Surgery indicates that hearing aids may lead to fewer visits to the hospital for seniors. The data from more than 1,300 adults aged 65 to 85 with severe hearing loss found that only 45 percent of them used a hearing aid.
The University of Michigan researchers found that those who did use a hearing aid were less likely to have gone to an emergency room or spent time in the hospital in the past year. The difference was about 2 percentage points, but according to the researchers that’s large enough to be significant.
The study also determined that people who had hearing aids were also less likely to have chronic illnesses such as diabetes and high blood pressure.
“I encourage everyone to receive a baseline hearing evaluation,” says Leroux. “Hearing loss can be gradual so it can be difficult for an individual to identify any changes over time. An annual evaluation helps us identify any changes early. Because our brains are processing the sound, it’s important for us to identify and treat a hearing loss early. Your brain forgets how to process tones, so the longer an individual goes without amplification, the harder it is to reteach the brain to understand what it is hearing.”
You may have a problem with your hearing and need to see a Hearing Instrument Specialist (HIS) if you have trouble hearing conversation in a noisy environment such as a restaurant, or are unable to hear people talk to you without looking at them, or have a constant ringing in your ears.
The first step in treatment of a hearing problem is a hearing evaluation. Experience Hearing Center’s Hearing Instrument Specialist, Richard Leroux is Board Certified by the National Board for Certification in Hearing Instrument Sciences.
Richard and Michelle Leroux of El Dorado Springs, are the owners of Experience Hearing Center, 1505 W. Austin Blvd., Nevada, MO, 417-667-5566, a locally owned and independent hearing clinic.