Have you noticed changes in your hearing experience? The early signs of hearing loss can be very subtle, so subtle that it’s often our friends and family members that notice changes in our behavior first.
Because hearing loss is notoriously hard to self-diagnose, it’s even more important to incorporate regular hearing checks into your health maintenance schedule. Protecting and confronting hearing loss today, with this new year, can help to prolong your healthiest hearing for years to come. That’s why better hearing should be at the top of your New Year’s resolution list.
Early signs of hearing loss
The earliest signs of hearing loss usually center around speech clarity. That means that we lose pieces of hearing what people are saying to us. It might become noticeable first when you start saying “What?” a lot more in conversation. Or, you begin to rely on your television’s subtitling function to hear dialogue properly. You may even begin to avoid phone conversations because they become difficult and effortful.
How hearing loss works
The way that later onset hearing loss works is through the decline of the integral inner ear cells responsible for receiving noise from the external world and relaying it to the brain as sound information. These cells are sensitive and non-regenerative, which means that they do not repopulate when damaged or repair themselves in time.
Instead, through the natural progression of age, time wears away at their utility. Or, we can expose our ears to excessive noise which further damages these fine cells. The result, at first, is a loss of hearing at the ends of the frequency range, usually high frequencies like children’s voices and birdsong. What a loss for our hearing experience!
Impacts of undiagnosed hearing loss
Many people ignore the early warning signs and, consciously or subconsciously, adapt their behavior to cope with hearing loss. That choice can be emotionally and mentally draining, often resulting in isolation and even depression.
Delaying diagnosis or treatment might adversely impact your close relationships, vibrancy of life or performance at work.
Don’t wait to intervene
Most people who ultimately choose hearing aids will have waited an average ten years before intervening. In that time, hearing loss worsens and it’s usually unmanageable by the time people invest in hearing aids. Mental and emotional impacts that could have been avoided by confronting hearing loss have already unfolded and relationships have been damaged.
Intervening now can help you to preserve the sounds you can hear
You don’t have to wait, though. People with hearing aids often reported high levels of satisfaction, with outcomes like improved relationships and more confidence. A vast majority of hearing aid wearers would recommend them to a friend.
And, by intervening early, you can preserve your brain’s ability to hear the widest range of sounds possible.
Hearing happens in the brain
Our ears receive the sound information and carry a load of responsibility in the hearing process, but our brains do some heavy lifting, too. It’s in the brain’s processing centers that recognition takes place and we can make meaning of the sound information that comes to us.
Our brain’s possess neuroplasticity, which helps us learn new tasks throughout our lifetimes and makes us such adaptable creatures. However, with hearing loss, the implications are slightly more complicated. When the brain stops hearing certain sounds, like higher frequencies, it adapts to that new reality. If enough time progresses between the initial loss of those sounds and treatment, our brain is no longer poised to receive that information and we may lose the chance to ever hear them again, even with assistive hearing devices that amplify and deliver those sounds.
Schedule a hearing test today
Beyond enhancing your hearing experience of today, confronting and treating hearing loss this year can have profound effects on your future hearing health and even decrease the risk of cognitive disorders, like dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease.
Schedule a hearing test with us today, to get you started in this new year on a path towards healthier hearing. Our team of experts will guide you through the easy process of a hearing exam and develop a plan for your next decades that prioritizes your hearing health.