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Healthy hearing: Stay well, stay vital

Last update on Aug, 06, 2021

Healthy hearing involves more than your ears

Healthy hearing impacts overall health in more ways than the act of hearing itself. Hearing loss is associated with other health conditions such as balance problems, cardiovascular disease, sleep apnea, social isolation, loneliness, diabetes, dementia and more. While connecting with loved ones and our physical world is important, maintaining personal vitality means retaining our hearing and brain health, retaining our balance, retaining emotional health and personal safety.

Here are some things you may not know about hearing loss:

  • Hearing health is overall health: Hearing occurs in the brain. The pathway to signal transmission and comprehension is quite complex. Hearing loss due to injury, illness, excessive sound, and aging affects our brain health and puts us at increased risk of cognitive decline. It also affects our physical health, with an increased risk of falls, and our mental health with an increased risk of depression and social isolation.

  • Hearing loss does not discriminate: About two-thirds of all hearing loss is in people under 65 years of age. What may be even more surprising is that 1 in 5 teenagers (ages 12 – 19) have hearing loss in one or both ears from high levels of sound from earbuds, from illness, medications or genetics. The World Health Organization has warned that 1.1 billion teenagers and young adults are at risk of hearing loss due to the use of personal audio devices and exposure to damaging levels of sound at noisy entertainment venues like concerts and sporting events.

  • Hearing loss is preventable: Hearing loss has many causes, including genetics, certain medications, and exposure to loud noises. Smoking and diabetes also can lead to hearing impairment. However, noise exposure is the most preventable cause of hearing loss.

  • People wait 5 to 7 years before seeking help for their hearing loss: Five to seven years is a very long time to have to struggle with your hearing. Why do people wait that long? First of all, fewer than 16 percent of family doctors test for hearing loss, and hearing loss is so gradual that it’s often hard to notice. Hearing loss frequently occurs for higher-pitched sounds, which means some lower-pitched sounds and voices may be heard normally, creating the perception of normal hearing. Annual hearing testing may help those with hearing loss gain a quicker diagnosis and treatment.

  • Hearing aids are not like eyeglasses: Hearing aids and eyeglasses are frequently compared, but in reality, they’re vastly different. Eyeglasses are a mechanism to immediately assist the eye to focus and do not require vision training to wear them. Hearing aids are responsible for helping the brain perceive pitch, duration, loudness, timbre, sonic texture and spatial location of sounds. People's brains need time to adjust to hearing aids and process the sound that comes through them. Because of each individual’s unique ability to hear various frequencies, hearing aids need to be programmed to a patient’s specific hearing loss. Fine-tuning may take several trips to see your hearing care professional. Even the most advanced hearing aids will not restore hearing 100 percent and individuals may need auditory training to help the brain process sounds.

Maintaining healthy hearing is vital to your overall well-being. It very much deserves your time and attention so you can keep on fully enjoying everything life has to offer. Check out our page on hearing diseases and health concerns for even more information on how hearing and overall health are linked.

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Celebrate Better Hearing & Speech Month

Celebrate Better Hearing and Speech Month this May by appreciating all your hearing does for you and taking steps to protect it. Get a hearing wellness check annually and stay true to yourself.

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