Hearing loss can be compared to heart disease and diabetes – it develops
slowly over time. It may even go unrecognized for many years. If left
untreated, it can lead to a poorer quality of life. The longer hearing
loss goes unaddressed, the greater impact it can have on a person’s health.
Those with hearing loss are more likely to suffer from psychosocial disorders
like depression, anxiety, anger, paranoia, withdrawal and isolation. Studies
show poor hearing is linked to falling, balance issues and accelerated
brain tissue loss.
Improved hearing is improved health. With that in mind, it is important
to know the myths about hearing loss. Here are the three most common misconceptions:
Myth No. 1: Hearing loss is obvious
Hearing loss is an invisible handicap. It will often go unrecognized without
a clinical hearing test. Eighty percent of patients 65 and older who suffer
moderate to profound hearing loss do not perceive themselves as hearing impaired.
Myth No. 2: Only the elderly suffer from hearing loss
Those who most commonly suffer from hearing loss are working adults between
the ages of 54 to 64.
Myth No. 3: Hearing aids don’t work
Researchers from John Hopkins University concluded hearing loss treatments
could delay or prevent dementia. Another study found that hearing aids
improve brain function.
Of my patients who receive a hearing device, a majority reports a much
improved quality of life. They did not realize how much they were missing.
I recently saw a 36-year-old man for a hearing test. While the patient
showed good eye contact and stayed in conversation, the test revealed
a 50 percent hearing loss. He was fit with hearing devices that have changed
his life. He loves them and wears them regularly. His family is so grateful.
Yes, a hearing screening may lead to having to wear hearing devices. But
by simply acknowledging and addressing the problem, my patients now enjoy
an overall better quality of life.
L. Mark Payne, Au.D. is a doctor of audiology, director of Audiology at Marshall ENT and Hearing Center,