Did you know that at age 65, 1 out of 3 people have a hearing loss or that 20% of Americans report some degree of hearing loss? How about that men are almost twice as likely as women to have hearing loss after age twenty? Or that two to three of 1,000 children born in the United States are born with detectable hearing loss?
These are only a few of many hearing loss statistics most people are not familiar with. Hearing loss is often an invisible ailment, going untreated and unacknowledged. May is Better Speech and Hearing Month! This is a month used to raise awareness about communication disorders, and is a great opportunity to learn more about hearing loss and treatment.
Why Are Hearing Loss Rates So High?
There are many factors that can contribute to having hearing loss:
- Not properly taking care of hearing (i.e. not using hearing protection at concerts or the gun range)
- Ototoxic medications
- Presbycusis (This is a sensorineural hearing loss that gradually progresses as we age)
- Conductive hearing loss components (perforated eardrum, excessive ear wax, allergies/fluid in the ear, etc...)
All of these factors can lead up to the high rates of hearing loss we see in the overall population.
Why is Hearing Loss Not Taken Seriously?
Many people do not realize how common hearing loss is most likely because it is an issue people don't necessarily see. Many people are annoyed by their own hearing loss or afraid to bother others when they don't hear, so they don't talk about it -- they just try to struggle through.
Hearing loss tends to be an "invisible" ailment because when looking at someone you don't automatically know that they have it. There are hearing devices to help correct hearing loss (just as glasses can help correct vision), however, some believe having these devices can carry a stigma of being old or infirm. Hearing devices are just like any other medical device: a tool to make your life easier and improve your quality of life!
Read more: An Audiologist's Perspective on Hearing Aids
Left untreated, hearing loss can have many negative effects on the sufferer: isolation, depression, and potentially dementia. However, the good news is, even those with dementia caused by hearing loss can see the effects lessened with the consistent use of hearing aids.
How Can I Be More Aware
How can you be more aware of hearing loss as an ailment -- either your own, or that of a loved one or significant other?
- Have your hearing tested regularly.
- Know that hearing loss is a gradual process and that hearing can diminish over time.
- How loud is too loud? Pay attention to your environment and whether the television must be turned up very loudly to be heard.
- Learn more about Better Speech and Hearing Month and what else you can do to raise awareness about communication disorders.