Have Hearing Loss? Why It’s Important to Treat It Right Away.

Grandparents playing with their grandchildren
Mature friends laughing at a lunch

With age comes wisdom and something none of us want. Do you know what it is?

It’s an inconvenient truth. Age-related hearing loss affects one in three adults over the age of 65… and it’s not just those over 65 that have to worry. Hearing loss is on the rise across all age groups and demographics. 

Detecting and treating hearing loss is crucial, as untreated hearing loss can have long-lasting implications for your physical and mental health.

What are the most common types of hearing loss?

Hearing loss generally falls under three categories, defined by the underlying causes of symptoms.

Conductive hearing loss: This type of hearing loss occurs in the outer or middle ear. Conductive hearing loss is often associated with some type of obstruction. For example, an ear infection can cause swelling and fluid build-up that subsequently interferes with your ability to hear. In other cases, conductive hearing loss can be caused by something as simple as a buildup of earwax. This is usually a temporary type of hearing loss that can be fixed with a simple procedure, medicine, or on rare occasions, surgery.

Sensorineural hearing loss: This hearing loss occurs in the inner ear, often due to nerve damage. This type of hearing loss is incurable and tends to get worse with time. When people talk about “age-related hearing loss,” they’re usually referring to sensorineural hearing loss. This type of hearing loss is usually treated with hearing aids or a cochlear implant if you’re a candidate.

Mixed or combination hearing loss: This is when you have a combination of both types of hearing loss. This type may require more than one type of treatment, including hearing aids.

Hearing loss is often caused by exposure to loud noise, but it can also be caused by illness, injury, exposure to toxins, heredity, and other factors.

How to tell if you have hearing loss – Look for these symptoms

How do you know if you have hearing loss or it’s just everyone around you mumbling? Hearing loss can be difficult to self-diagnose, in large part because the symptoms progress quite slowly. Your brain has its own mechanisms for compensating when your ears aren’t functioning quite right, so you may find yourself unconsciously turning up your television volume rather than seeking out help for your hearing loss or even lip-reading. 

There are several early signs of hearing loss:

  • Conversation sounds muffled or distant.
  • Some consonant sounds are difficult to discern.
  • It’s difficult to make out conversation when there’s background noise.
  • Withdrawal or avoidance of social situations.
  • Unexplained fatigue or memory lapses.
Multi-generational family enjoying a dinner outside

Are you hearing complaints from family or friends about having the volume too high? Or that you ask them to repeat themselves a lot? Those are signs too.

If you feel as though you’re experiencing these symptoms, it’s a good idea to schedule an appointment so you can undergo a hearing aid test. Hearing aid tests will be able to detect whether you have hearing loss and to what extent it might have advanced, paving the way for effective treatment.

Why procrastination can damage your hearing and increase hearing loss

Why wait until it’s too late to do anything?

Left untreated, hearing loss can cause significant complications for your health. Because conversations are challenging, people with untreated hearing loss tend to withdraw socially–they visit friends less frequently, talk to others less often, and so on. Over time, this can lead to significant mental health challenges, such as depression and anxiety.

There’s also a significant amount of evidence to suggest that untreated hearing loss substantially increases your risk for the development of dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease. The best way to lower these risks is to ensure your hearing loss is addressed with hearing aids.