Many people consider hearing loss as one of the many complications that come with growing old, and that’s partly true. Presbycusis or age-related hearing loss is an issue that is experienced by one in every three adults over the age of 65. This condition can be linked to changes in the middle ear, inner ear, and the nerve pathways to the brain.
But while some people are predisposed to hearing loss due to their age, genetics, various health conditions, or as a side effect of the medications that they are taking, the loss of one’s hearing can also be a result of one’s lifestyle or environment. Years of exposure to loud music or noises can overwork the hair cells in the ear, causing these cells to die. This, in turn, can lead to hearing loss that can keep on progressing for as long as the person is exposed to the loud sound.
Because of unsafe listening practices that are also so prevalent in the world today, especially among younger individuals, the United Nations estimates that 1 billion young people are currently at risk of permanent hearing loss. By 2050, around 2.5 billion people will have some form of reduced hearing capacity. Of this number, about 700 million will require rehabilitation to overcome the disabling effects of their condition.
Tell Tale Signs of Hearing Loss
Hearing loss can be a gradual process, so you may not notice if you’re starting to lose the sharpness of your ears. That said, early detection is key to preventing the condition from worsening. Here are the tell-tale signs that your sense of hearing is not as good as it used to be:
- You’re having difficulty making out words and other sounds, especially if there’s background noise.
- The words and sounds you’re hearing often seem garbled or muffled.
- You’re having a hard time following conversations and listening to what others are saying.
- You find yourself often asking others to repeat the words they just said.
- You often need to pay more attention to be able to follow conversations.
- The difficulty in following conversations is causing you to withdraw from social events.
- You can hear a constant buzzing in your ear.
- Loud noises are becoming more bothersome to you than before.
- You need to raise the volume of the TV, phone, or radio to hear them more clearly.
- Sounds that were designed to get your attention, such as your doorbell or fire alarm, no longer solicit a reaction from you.
Infants and children may manifest hearing loss in ways that are different from adults. Among the signs that their parents and guardians should watch out for are the following:
- The child is not disturbed by loud noises.
- The child does not turn to attempt to see where sounds are coming from.
- The child starts to speak much later than other children their age.
- The child does not respond to simple words like “hello” or “bye” at ages 4 to 8 months.
- The child’s way of speaking is noticeably less clear compared to others in their age group.
- The child does not hear or understand directions and instructions.
- The child is not attracted by sounds that typically get the attention of children, such as songs.
The Impacts of Hearing Loss
More than just making it harder for you to enjoy the music that you know and love, hearing loss has plenty of drawbacks that can have a significant impact on your personal and professional life.
For one, many people who experience hearing loss have a hard time accessing educational opportunities, which can then have a long-term effect on their career and employment prospects. People with unaddressed hearing loss can also be prone to isolation and loneliness as the condition can serve as a barrier to communicating with others, thus reducing their quality of life.
How Is Hearing Loss Assessed?
In case you have concerns about your hearing, and you want to check if you are experiencing hearing loss, see a medical professional as soon as possible to assess your condition. During a check-up, the audiologist can use tuning forks, an audiogram, or tympanometry to determine the range of your hearing capability. From here, your doctor can provide you with recommendations to not only prevent the condition from progressing, but also possibly treat it.
In cases where hearing loss cannot be reversed, a person may be given the option to use hearing aids or undergo surgery to address the root of the problem.
The negative impacts of hearing loss on one’s quality of life cannot be understated. But if the condition is caught in time and the right interventions are implemented, there’s a possibility that it can be treated and managed. Get checked today and take steps to preserve your hearing as early as possible.