If I Can Still Hear, Is It OK to Put Off Getting Hearing Aids?

If I Can Still Hear, Is It OK to Put Off Getting Hearing Aids?

Bonnie L. Baehr, Au.D.

Do you find yourself struggling to hear over the phone, or having to ask people to repeat themselves more and more often in noisy and quiet situations alike? It is easy to rationalize these issues. For instance, instead of attributing these instances to a developing hearing loss, it’s common to blame it on someone mumbling or not speaking loud enough. However, the sooner we can admit issues with our hearing, the sooner we can seek treatment. 

Issues with hearing can start as early as your mid 40’s or 50’s. You may be turning on the subtitles of the TV or have trouble hearing in noisy rooms. However, many people wait 7 to ten years from the time they first have subtle inclining’s of hearing loss—however they may feel that their hearing isn’t severe enough for hearing aids. It brings up the question: if you can hear most sounds, is it okay to put off getting hearing aids?

Should You Wait to Get Hearing Aids?

90 percent of hearing loss is sensorineural which means there has been damage to the tiny cells of the inner ear which transmit sound from the ears to the brain. Sensorineural hearing loss is most caused by age, however, if you work or relax in noisy settings, have sustained head injuries, or have other health conditions, sensorineural hearing loss can develop at any age. Because hearing loss is a condition associated with old age, many young people live in denial about hearing loss. However, avoiding the issue can make conditions around hearing much worse!

While sensorineural hearing loss is irreversible it can be treated using hearing aids. These tiny digital devices continue to improve in power, sound enhancement and versatility of listening environments to amplify the specific tones, pitches and sounds you struggle with based on a hearing exam. 

The Impact of Untreated Hearing Loss

Untreated hearing loss is a much more serious than you may first suspect and can affect nearly every aspect of your quality of life from cognitive function, physical health, relationships, employment, and emotional well-being: 

Hearing Loss and Cognitive Decline

We collect sound with our ears, but hearing happens in the brain. When we struggle to hear, we are more likely to fight to fill in blanks in words and sentences in nearly every social interaction we have. This means that our brain must work overtime to hear and puts a strain on our cognitive functioning. Energy devoted to hearing is diverted from other areas of cognitive functioning and can increase the risk of cognitive decline. In fact, hearing loss has been found to cause even people with mild hearing loss to score lower on cognitive testing. However, as hearing loss continues to progress and go untreated, the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia rises significantly.

Hearing Loss and Your Relationships

Hearing loss affects communication and over years, it can build up into resentments and rifts between family, friends and even your significant other. Healthy hearing and communication fosters closeness and understanding and hearing loss can erode these moments replacing them with frustration and resentment!

Hearing Loss and Your Job

Many put off addressing a hearing loss due to the perceived cost of hearing aids. However, one study found that annual earnings for people with untreated hearing loss may be $30,000 less annually than people who treat their hearing loss with hearing aids or have normal hearing!

Hearing Loss and The Emotional Impact

When our relationships are strained, we are less likely to go out, connect with friends and try new things. Our self-esteem and self-confidence may feel directly affected though we may not even know why. However, these communication issues can build up into chronic depression, social isolation, loneliness, and social anxiety which makes us less active and able to make health choices.

Treating Hearing Loss Early

It’s always a healthy choice to monitor your hearing health. The sooner you detect even a mild hearing loss, the sooner you can commit to addressing the issue. When you are proactive about your hearing health you have a greater chance of avoiding the many devastating risks to your health and well-being. Invest in a greater future for you and your loved ones today by scheduling a hearing exam and consultation with us today!