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Hearing Loss is So Much More Common Than Most People Assume
There are many reasons that explain why hearing loss is much more common than most people are likely to assume. It is indeed rare to be born with congenital hearing loss. In the United States this happens in less than three out of every 1,000 births. So this gives the impression that it is a rare condition.
Secondly, hearing loss is not often portrayed in popular culture and when it is, it is frequently portrayed inaccurately. Of course we all know that popular culture presents a warped version of reality in everything from standards of beauty to how people behave, but still, the lack of representation of the deaf and hard of hearing does passively give the impression that it is a rarity.
And it is in fact an invisible disability. You can not look at a stranger on the street and recognize that they are suffering from it.
And yet, in reality, almost 14% of everyone in the United States aged 18 and over lives with it. And the percentage of the population affected by it increases steadily with age until by the time we look at people aged 75 and over, more than half of everyone in that age bracket suffers from hearing loss.
What Causes Hearing Loss?
We hear thanks to the tiny hairs in our inner ears. When sound waves hit these minuscule hairs, they vibrate against our eardrums and our eardrums then nearly instantaneously send signals to our brains to recognize, decode, and spatialize the source of the sound.
The vast majority of the time, hearing loss is the result of injury to these hairs. It may be the result of a shockingly loud sudden accident. But more often it is the imperceptibly gradual damage from habitual exposure to unhealthy sound levels. This can happen thanks to one’s livelihood or one’s hobbies. And it is often the result of sound levels that are perfectly okay in limited exposures, but the amount of exposure time causes damage. Such damage is permanent and irreversible. These tiny hairs can not and do not get repaired. But taking action as soon as you suspect trouble will greatly limit the consequences of the damage.
Why Do So Many People Fail To Recognize Their Own Hearing Loss
Hearing loss comes on so incredibly slowly, it is actually impossible to recognize that it is happening. It is very common for people to read lips without even noticing that they are doing so. And it is just as common for people to fill in dropped phrases with contact clues. And of course we are each so at home situated with our own five senses, we never think to question their fidelity.
But as hearing loss encroaches, these subtle and subconscious adaptations to one’s behavior require more and more energy. People become exhausted and cranky without knowing exactly why.
Recognizing The Signs In Others
Is someone asking you to repeat yourself more frequently? Is someone suddenly complaining that you are mumbling all the time? Or misunderstanding things? When you visit, do you find the television cranked up to an uncomfortable volume? Do they appear fatigued from the most common social interactions? Are they withdrawing?
Left untreated, hearing troubles quickly spiral into damaging every aspect of one’s health and life. Hearing loss has emotional and psychological consequences beyond the immediate safety concerns it causes. Hearing loss has social and professional consequences. This is why if you recognize these signs of hearing loss in a loved one, though it may feel awkward to do so, it is imperative that you intervene.
They are likely to deny it. This is common. This is partially due to their failure to recognize it explained above and partially just how much simpler it is for everyone to minimize a health concern than address it. But minimizing and denying are not solutions.
Take Action Today
Treatment is simple, impactful, and tailored to your unique needs and budget. Make appointments today for both yourself and the loved one that you are concerned about. This will normalize keeping up with hearing health and minimize any stigma. There is no more meaningful way to get an objective assessment than an exam performed by a specialist. They will guide you gracefully from there to maximize your quality of life more easily than you ever would have imagined possible.