There’s more to hearing loss than just 'hearing'
By Rex Banks, Au.D., Reg. CASLPO
Director, Audiology, Canadian Hearing Society
Taking care of our overall health is top of mind these days. Canadians take considerable time out of their daily lives to go to the doctor and dentist, get their eyes tested and keep fit. But many people are missing one important element of overall health management…their hearing. Taking care of your hearing has many benefits to your overall health, yet many people neglect to get their hearing tested regularly.
The consequences of undiagnosed and unmanaged hearing loss are significant across the age spectrum. There is an emerging body of evidence associating hearing loss with serious health conditions.
- Heart disease: The negative influence of impaired cardiovascular health can affect your hearing.
- Diabetes: Hearing loss is about twice as common in adults with diabetes.
- Cognitive function, dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease: Studies show that older people with hearing loss are at increased risk to develop dementia, and that hearing loss is associated with a faster rate of cognitive decline.
- Depression and anxiety: Hearing loss can lead to isolation and other emotional conditions that can affect both quality of life and mental health.
- Chronic kidney disease: Research has shown that people with moderate chronic kidney disease have a higher prevalence of hearing loss.
In addition, hearing loss can cause difficulties within families and relationships due to stress, anger, and fatigue from miscommunications. For youth, hearing loss can impact education, learning, and social development. A regular hearing exam can help you identify and manage your hearing health, and the health conditions associated with hearing loss.
Don’t wait, manage your hearing loss now
For those with hearing loss, there is help. Many people with hearing loss wait about seven years before they seek help, during which time the impact of hearing loss increases.
Don’t let your hearing loss go untreated. Once you are evaluated by an audiologist, it can often be managed with appropriate hearing aids, safety devices, education and aural rehabilitation. Ninety per cent of people with hearing loss can improve communication with properly fitted hearing aids and rehabilitative counselling.
Hearing aid technology has advanced to suit many different lifestyles, age groups and preferences. Hearing aids are smaller and sound more natural than ever. They have faster processors, better designs, virtually no feedback, adjust automatically to your environment, are wireless and can communicate with each other, are Bluetooth enabled and can connect to your smartphone, computer or television.
Make an appointment with an audiologist to get your hearing checked, get advice on how to manage your hearing loss and how to prevent more from occurring. Whether you need a hearing aid, assistive listening device, tinnitus therapy, or strategies for communication, an audiologist can help you get reconnected to the world around you.