Benefits Of Wearing A Hearing Aid
Treating your hearing loss is the first step toward a healthier, happier life. Wearing a hearing aid can enrich your life and reopen many doors that may have closed for you over the years. Other benefits of treating your hearing loss with hearing aids include:
- Hearing your grandchilds first words
- Hearing nature again
- Attending dinners in noisy environments
- Enjoying parties and understanding conversation
Hearing Aids And Implants
If you have permanent hearing loss, a specialist will often recommend hearing aids. These will not make your hearing perfect, but they make sounds louder and clearer.
Some people may need a hearing implant. These are devices that are attached to your skull or placed deep inside your ear.
Untreated Hearing Loss And Cognitive Decline
In addition to the impacts on your emotional wellbeing, untreated hearing loss can also affect your cognitive health. When your ability to hear declines, your brain receives less stimulation than it typically would because its not working to identify different sounds and nuances. Over time, this lack of exercise for your brain can lead to memory loss or even dementia. Think of your brain in the same way you think of your body if you work out the different muscle groups of your body, you remain healthy overall. However, if you instead only focused on one specific area, the other parts of your body become weaker. This is how untreated hearing loss impacts your brain. The portion of your brain responsible for transmitting sound becomes weaker, making memory loss more likely.
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Causes Of Hearing Loss
Loud noise is one of the most common causes of hearing loss. Noise from lawn mowers, snow blowers, or loud music can damage the inner ear, resulting in permanent hearing loss. Loud noise also contributes to tinnitus. You can prevent most noise-related hearing loss. Protect yourself by turning down the sound on your stereo, television, or headphones moving away from loud noise or using earplugs or other ear protection.
Earwax or fluid buildup can block sounds that are carried from the eardrum to the inner ear. If wax blockage is a problem, talk with your doctor. He or she may suggest mild treatments to soften earwax.
A punctured ear drum can also cause hearing loss. The eardrum can be damaged by infection, pressure, or putting objects in the ear, including cotton-tipped swabs. See your doctor if you have pain or fluid draining from the ear.
Health conditions common in older people, such as diabetes or high blood pressure, can contribute to hearing loss. Viruses and bacteria , a heart condition, stroke, brain injury, or a tumor may also affect your hearing.
Hearing loss can also result from taking certain medications. Ototoxic medications damage the inner ear, sometimes permanently. Some ototoxic drugs include medicines used to treat serious infections, cancer, and heart disease. Some antibiotics are ototoxic. Even aspirin at some dosages can cause problems. Check with your doctor if you notice a problem while taking a medication.
Benign Vocal Cord Lesions
Benign non-cancerous growths on the vocal cords are most often caused by voice misuse or overuse, which causes trauma to the vocal cords. These lesions on the vocal cord alter vocal cord vibration and lead to hoarseness. The most common vocal cord lesions are nodules, polyps, and cysts. Vocal nodules are similar to “calluses” of the vocal cords. They occur on both vocal cords opposite each other at the point of maximal wear and tear, and are usually treated with voice therapy to eliminate the vocal trauma that is causing them. Contrary to common myth, vocal nodules are highly treatable and intervention leads to improvement in most cases. Vocal cord polyps and cysts are the other common benign lesions. These are sometimes related to voice misuse or overuse, but can also occur in people who don’t use their voice improperly. These types of problems typically require microsurgical treatment for cure, with voice therapy employed in a combined treatment approach in some cases.
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Can Hearing Loss Cause Speech Problems In Adults
Hearing loss can affect speech in adults, but not in the way you might think. Adult hearing loss primarily affects speech perception rather than speech production. This means that adult hearing loss not just a sensory problemâthere are also communication issues that are important to address.
What Are The Effects And Signs Of Nihl
When you are exposed to loud noise over a long period of time, you may slowly start to lose your hearing. Because the damage from noise exposure is usually gradual, you might not notice it, or you might ignore the signs of hearing loss until they become more pronounced. Over time, sounds may become distorted or muffled, and you might find it difficult to understand other people when they talk or have to turn up the volume on the television. The damage from NIHL, combined with aging, can lead to hearing loss severe enough that you need hearing aids to magnify the sounds around you to help you hear, communicate, and participate more fully in daily activities.
NIHL can also be caused by extremely loud bursts of sound, such as gunshots or explosions, which can rupture the eardrum or damage the bones in the middle ear. This kind of NIHL can be immediate and permanent.
Loud noise exposure can also cause tinnitusa ringing, buzzing, or roaring in the ears or head. Tinnitus may subside over time, but can sometimes continue constantly or occasionally throughout a persons life. Hearing loss and tinnitus can occur in one or both ears.
Sometimes exposure to impulse or continuous loud noise causes a temporary hearing loss that disappears 16 to 48 hours later. Recent research suggests, however, that although the loss of hearing seems to disappear, there may be residual long-term damage to your hearing.
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Hearing Loss: A Common Problem For Older Adults
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Hearing loss is a common problem caused by noise, aging, disease, and heredity. People with hearing loss may find it hard to have conversations with friends and family. They may also have trouble understanding a doctors advice, responding to warnings, and hearing doorbells and alarms.
Approximately one in three people between the ages of 65 and 74 has hearing loss, and nearly half of those older than 75 has difficulty hearing. But, some people may not want to admit they have trouble hearing.
Older people who cant hear well may become depressed, or they may withdraw from others because they feel frustrated or embarrassed about not understanding what is being said. Sometimes, older people are mistakenly thought to be confused, unresponsive, or uncooperative because they dont hear well.
Hearing problems that are ignored or untreated can get worse. If you have a hearing problem, see your doctor. Hearing aids, special training, certain medicines, and surgery are some of the treatments that can help.
How Old Were You When Your Hearing Began To Change
If your hearing loss began when you were a baby, you will experience your remaining hearing differently than if you began to lose your hearing much later in life. Your voice may be different, and your emotional relationship with your hearing may be different. If you have been accustomed to hearing all your life and then it changes, there are some difficult adjustments to make.
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Impacts Of Untreated Hearing Loss
Many people are aware theyre suffering from hearing loss, but find it difficult to get help. Those who have been diagnosed with hearing loss wait, on average, seven years before seeking treatment. The reasons for waiting on help vary some are frustrated by hearing loss, believing it to be a sign of aging. Others think their condition isnt that severe or may not even realize they have hearing problems.
Unfortunately, allowing hearing loss to remain untreated can lead to some serious consequences. The most recent studies highlight the social, psychological, cognitive and health effects of untreated hearing loss. These effects can vary as well, but all have serious impacts on your quality of life.
My Hearings Not That Bad
Hearing aid users wait, on average, 10 years before getting help for hearing loss. But during that time, communication with loved ones becomes more difficult, and isolation and health risks increase. Our findings emphasized just how important it is to be proactive in addressing any hearing declines over time,says Lin.
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The Link Between Hearing Loss And Speech
âOver time, adults with hearing loss struggle to understand sounds around them, which can make it difficult to learn new words and integrate these into their day-to-day conversations,â Leela Magavi, MD, a Hopkins-trained psychiatrist and regional medical director at Community Psychiatry, tells WebMD Connect to Care. âAs these individuals struggle to hear their own voice and commentary, over time, their voice may develop a flat tone with minimal ,â Magavi says.
According to a 2018 article published in the Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, our body’s auditory system helps regulate the production of vocal sounds or speech. If you’re experiencing hearing loss, you could begin to perceive your own voice as dull or distorted, creating a strong negative effect on your satisfaction with the sound quality of your own voice.
Hearing loss could also have a significant impact on partnerships. âIf one partner has difficulty hearing, it may cause embarrassment, frustration, or distress for both,” Thomas Powers, PhD, managing member at Powers Consulting, LLC in New York, tells WebMD Connect to Care. ” can lead to a withdrawal from social situations where the partner with hearing loss has difficulty engaging in the conversation.â
Additionally, “if your communication skills are impacted, you may have fewer employment options or less interaction with colleagues,â Powers says.
Delayed Language And Speech Development
Hearing loss can affect a child’s ability to develop language and speech. A study by the National Center for Hearing Assessment and Management found that children with moderate-severe hearing loss had lower receptive vocabulary scores than their same-age peers who did not have a hearing impairment.
In other words, children with hearing loss were less able to understand what others were saying. In addition, the study found that delayed language development is more likely in a child who has been diagnosed with learning disabilities or attention deficit disorder and those whose parents have limited education levels.
While some communication difficulties may be present at birth for people with congenital hearing loss however, most communication problems develop later due to lack of exposure and experience.
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How Is Speech Affected
Hearing loss reduces our ability to hear sounds at several frequencies. Depending on the level of hearing loss and how it affects an individual, it is possible that words formed cannot be heard by the speaker. This renders it hard for the person experiencing hearing loss to listen to their sounds which can make it harder for them to identify the right sound to create the word.
There is a very close relationship between the sound your ears hear and how your brain interprets them. Over time the letters and sounds you struggle to hear can also manifest in your speech.
You may find yourself unable to round out vowels correctly or to form words you have found simple to say. While there is a lot of muscle memory in the way, your mouth forms words, over time, you may experience a decline in your ability to get the sounds to develop correctly.
How Does Hearing Loss Occur
In order to understand how hearing loss affects communication, its important to understand how it can occur in the first place.
One way is known as conductive hearing loss. This occurs due to damage in the middle or outer ear. Often this can occur after experiencing a ruptured eardrum or a case of impacted earwax.
Another type is known as sensorineural hearing loss. This occurs when hair cells in the inner ear are damaged, and often occurs as a natural part of aging and lifestyle. If someone likes to listen to loud music on a regular basis or works around loud noise, this is the most common type of hearing loss that can follow.
Another extremely common type of hearing loss is known as tinnitus, which often presents in the form of ringing in the ears.
Now that youre aware of the most common hearing-impaired experiences, below is one of the more negative sides of living with a hearing impairment, as well as a big benefit of growing and learning with a hearing aid in place.
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What Support Is Available With Hearing Loss
Hearing services Ministry of Health, NZ, 2018Hearing New Zealand An organisation to improve the quality of life for people with hearing loss.National Foundation for the Deaf NZ. An organisation that promotes the rights, interests and welfare of New Zealanders with hearing loss.Deaf Aotearoa A national organisation representing the voice of Deaf people, and the national service provider for Deaf people in New Zealand. The Pindrop Foundation NZ A voice for New Zealand adults who are affected by a severe hearing loss and need a cochlear implant to restore their hearing.Life Unlimited Provides free hearing evaluations, information and support.New Zealand Audiology SocietyAudiologists are specialists at diagnosing hearing problems and the non-medical treatment of hearing loss.There is funding for hearing aids available. There are also lots of products that can improve your quality of life with hearing loss, such as telephones, tv and telephone amplifiers, personal listening devices and so on.
What Are The Complications Associated With Hearing Loss
Hearing loss has been shown to negatively impact peoples quality of life and their mental state. If you develop hearing loss, you may have difficulty understanding others. This can increase your anxiety level or cause depression. Treatment for hearing loss may improve your life significantly. It may restore self-confidence while also improving your ability to communicate with other people.
Adult Hearing Loss And Speech
Adult hearing loss often affects the ability to understand what others are saying. âAs you would expect, adult hearing loss is significantly associated with decreased speech comprehension,â Hamid Djalilian, director of otology and neurotology at the University of California, Irvine, tells WebMD Connect to Care.
This difficulty understanding what people are saying also involves other communication problems, such as understanding the emotions behind what is being said. âRecent studies have confirmed that older individuals with hearing loss exhibit significant difficulty in recognizing emotions in speech,â Djalilian says.
According to a 2019 article published in The Hearing Review, hearing loss can result in âfeelings of frustration, embarrassment, and distressâ for adults with hearing loss and their partners. This puts adults with hearing loss at a higher risk for loneliness and social isolation.
âThere begins to be a negative spiral with adult hearing loss,â Djalilian says. âThe hearing loss causes decreased speech perception, which then strains relationships. And this strain leads to social isolation, loneliness, and depressionâall conditions that are notably increased in adults with hearing loss.â
If youâre struggling with hearing loss, hearing aids may be able to help. The right hearing aid could significantly improve your hearing abilities and prevent some of the communication and perceptual difficulties associated with hearing loss.
How Severe Is Your Hearing Loss
This is the simplest and most frequently used way of describing a hearing loss. Audiologists often use the categories mild, moderate, severe, and profound.
By and large, if you have a mild hearing loss you will be able to hear a conversation without much struggle if youre in a quiet room near the person talking, as long as there is little background noise, but you may struggle when louder background noise is present.
If you have a severe to profound hearing loss you will be unable to hear what anyone is saying under almost most circumstances.
However, there is much more you need to know before you can understand your hearing fully, as it is not simply about hearing individual sounds and tones.
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Types Of Hearing Loss
Hearing loss comes in many forms. It can range from a mild loss, in which a person misses certain high-pitched sounds, such as the voices of women and children, to a total loss of hearing.
There are two general categories of hearing loss:
- Sensorineural hearing loss occurs when there is damage to the inner ear or the auditory nerve. This type of hearing loss is usually permanent.
- Conductive hearing loss occurs when sound waves cannot reach the inner ear. The cause may be earwax buildup, fluid, or a punctured eardrum. Medical treatment or surgery can usually restore conductive hearing loss.
What Do The Early Stages Of Hearing Loss Feel Like
At first, your hearing may seem fine, but the actual act of listening may feel a little more difficult. This increased effort in hearing is experienced particularly in busy public places with plenty of background noise.
If you find yourself feeling more exhausted in these situations, it may be a sign that your hearing needs attention. Early intervention can make an enormous difference to your long-term health, so its worth acting sooner rather than later.
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How Can I Prevent Noise
The best way to prevent noise-induced hearing loss is to protect your ears from loud noises:
- Move away from loud sounds or speakers.
- Turn down the volume when listening to music or watching TV. When wearing earphones or earbuds, you should be able to hear conversations around you.
- Take breaks after listening to music with headphones or earbuds for more than 1 hour at a time.
- Wear ear plugs at concerts or if you play in a band.
- Wear ear plugs or ear muffs when mowing the lawn, using power tools, or anytime you are around loud machinery.
- Talk to your doctor about getting a hearing test if you have tinnitus that doesnt go away or you are concerned about your hearing.