There’s a good chance that the last time you had your hearing tested was decades ago. Although many people regularly have their eyes checked and an annual teeth cleaning, our habits around hearing health are less than good.
It isn’t even necessarily an aspect of health that people purposely avoid; it’s that no one knows how often they should have their hearing tested. We also tend to minimize any changes in our hearing that come up, as it’s often a condition associated with “old people.”
The truth is that most of us should have our hearing checked much more regularly than we do, and annually once you turn 65.
How many people have hearing loss
More than thirty million people in the United States have hearing loss. The rate of acquired hearing loss increases as we age, due to the passage of time and its effect on our cells as well as exposure to excessive noise. Both causes of hearing loss, which account for a majority of cases, are classified as sensorineural, which occurs when there has been damage to the structure, cells or tissues of the inner ear. Most instances of this type of hearing loss are irreversible, yet highly treatable.
How hearing loss works
As we age, or due to harm inflicted by loud volumes, the cells of our inner ear begin to decline. Like many cells within our body, they do not repair themselves or reproduce. Instead, we simply have less of them.
These cells are integral to the hearing process because they collect noise from the outside world and transform it into sound information. This information, in the form of electrical signals, is sent to the brain for processing. The work of our brain’s processing centers translates the electrical signals of information into meaningful information like language.
People delay hearing health action
While a majority of people have had their eyes examined within the past five years, only 20 percent of people had a hearing text, per a survey from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. The trouble is that hearing is not among the regular exams we are culturally expected to schedule and the symptoms of early hearing loss can be so subtle that we adapt to our new reality without realizing that our hearing has changed.
Early symptoms of hearing loss are usually centered around speech clarity, that is, difficulty understanding what other people are saying. It might seem like everyone is mumbling all the time, you’re saying ‘what?’ in conversation much more often, or you have trouble understanding the dialogue in television programs and films.
How often should you have your hearing tested
After the age of 18, people should begin scheduling a hearing test every decade. People over 50 years of age should have their hearing tested once every few years. And as our risk of hearing loss increases, these exams should happen more often.
One in three people over the age of 65 has hearing loss, which makes scheduling an annual exam a wise move.
You should increase the frequency of your exams regardless of age if you work in a noisy environment like manufacturing, entertainment, agriculture, the military or as a professional musician.
People who already have documented hearing loss should also have regular hearing checkups. Hearing loss is a progressive disease, which means that it will get worse over time. Consistent monitoring of your hearing loss progression and the levels of success your hearing aids bring can help you to stay on top of any changes and adapt as needed.
Treatments for hearing loss
Both hearing aids and cochlear implants are proven interventions for hearing loss. While we know that hearing aids improve relationships, provide greater ease in listening and enhance the vibrancy of life, only around 20 percent of the people who could benefit from the technology try it out.
Studies show that hearing aids also reduce the risk of accidental falls and can even help lower the odds of a future dementia diagnosis.
Schedule a hearing consultation today
Prioritize your hearing health by making a plan for regular hearing exams and get a head start by scheduling a hearing consultation with our team today.