A recent informal survey of otolaryngologists (ear, nose, and throat specialists) gave a clear indication of just how widespread the condition of hearing loss is expected to be in the future. The panelists agreed that based on current environmental trends of unhealthy noise exposure, one of the most in-demand specialties in the medical profession will be the field of otology, or ear health. This sobering fact reminds us to be ever mindful of protecting our precious hearing and not take for granted all it’s wonderful benefits.
Prevalence of Hearing Loss
Hearing loss is one of the most common physical impairments facing people at any stage of their lives. According to the Hearing Loss Association of America, about 48 million Americans (20%) are experiencing some form of hearing loss. For anyone entering, or already into their senior years (60-80), the incidence of hearing -related problems rises significantly; especially for the men of this age group. However, youth are not immune to deafness either, with a reported 15% of all children ages 6-19 having some form of hearing loss. Worldwide, it is estimated by the World Health Organization (WHO) that 466 million people (of which 34 million are children) have disabling hearing loss.
Social Benefits of Treating Hearing Loss
The ability to communicate effectively with friends and loved-ones is a vital part of maintaining strong, healthy relationships. A person with untreated hearing loss could develop any number of emotional and psychological problems, such as depression, social isolation, and lower self-confidence. This could ultimately lead to a complete withdrawal from social activities, which is actually one of the top risk factors for dementia. Restoring a good degree of your hearing can help break you out of this restrictive existence, and allow you to once again interact with people in a healthy manner.
Hearing loss usually doesn’t happen overnight; most people put off addressing the problem until they can no longer ignore the consequences. At the emotional level, the common way to compensate for diminished hearing is by assuming all sorts of unhealthy behavior that can lead to poor mental health. Once this starts to happen, often times your physical health deteriorates as well, due to side effects like the headaches that come from straining to hear a conversation.
Recent research indicates that hearing loss and depression disorders are indelibly linked, and if left unchecked, can eventually spiral into the early stages of dementia. It was found that chronic hearing loss results in atrophy of the frontal brain lobes. The subsequent reduction of cognitive function opens the door to abnormal (slow) information processing speed and episodic memory loss. Prolonged hearing disorders have a very negative effect on your inherent personality; to the point where your overall sense of well-being and mental strength is compromised.
There are literally millions of workers employed in the United States that suffer from uncorrected hearing loss, and that ends up costing the economy billions of dollars. Even some of those that do have corrective hearing aids sometimes refuse to wear them on the job, for fear of having their employment re-evaluated. Those with hearing loss on the job tend to avoid tasks and projects that require all your faculties to be sharp. This can lead to abandonment of the type of pursuits that translate into higher income. The most immediate financial benefit is all the money you will save by taking preventive hearing loss measures to avoid costly future treatments. One of the best things you can do to preserve your hearing right now is to use properly designed earplugs. Since everyone’s ear canal is sized differently, the preferable choice of earplugs should be the moldable kind that blocks just the outer opening to the ear canal.
The future of hearing loss prevention and treatment looks very promising, indeed. There may even come a day when bionic implants and advanced regenerative procedures will replace damaged auditory components. Until that time, we can thankfully rely on traditional restorative measures, such as hearing aids, cochlear implants, and better nutrition with an emphasis on natural vitamin A uptake to ensure that our golden years are not silent!
ALL Sound Hearing
If you’ve noticed changes in your hearing due to ear infection and are struggling with communication, contact us today. We provide comprehensive hearing health services and we’re here to help!