Hearing Loss In Families Is Sometimes Untreated
I straddle both sides of this equation. I have hearing loss myself and I wear fantastic hearing aids. I’m also the daughter of a person with significant hearing loss who also has excellent hearing aids but frequently chooses not to wear them. I text my mother before going to her house to remind her to put in her hearing aids. Often she does and she can hear and converse with us right away when we walk in. When that happens, life is good.
Other times, though, my mother doesn’t put in her hearing aids for our visit and she cannot understand a word we say. This doesn’t stop her from asking questions, repeatedly, to which she cannot understand the answers. I keep a handwritten note in my purse that says “Mom, I will talk with you after you put in your hearing aids.”
There’s no question — when a family member has a hearing loss, treated or untreated, the loss impacts the entire family. Even when using hearing aids, most people with hearing loss still struggle to understand speech in challenging listening conditions. What should you do? First, encourage your loved one to see a hearing care professional for treatment. Second, lay some ground rules for communication.
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
What Can Vision And Hearing Loss Do
When you lose your vision or hearing, you can be cut off from the activities you used to enjoy. For example, cataracts can make it difficult to drive at night, or perform outdoor activities during a bright, sunny day.
When you lose your hearing, you can find it difficult to engage in conversation with other people or follow along in a conversation with multiple people. Talking to people in other rooms can be difficult, too. As a result, you may find yourself feeling isolated from other people.
Both hearing loss and cataract-related vision loss have been linked to depression. Because people rely so much on their vision, the loss of their sight can make them more reliant on others, and can make it more difficult for them to enjoy activities they used to do. This in turn, can lead to depression, which has been linked to other physical and mental health issues.
Similarly, tinnitus the perception of sound with no external source has also been linked to depression. An estimated 2 million people have tinnitus so severe they have reported some type of mental health issue.
Also, if someone has also had a stroke, arthritis, or another disease, not being able to see or hear clearly can compound the difficulties they have with these diseases.
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Hearing Loss Solutions For Quality Of Life
With so many hearing loss solutions available, you have options that can greatly improve your quality of life. You can regain your confidence and participate in social, personal and work situations. With the right hearing device, you can begin to catch the sounds youve been missing and enjoy improved self-esteem as you feel more like yourself. Your communication will improve, and you will not have to suffer the negative emotional effects of isolation. You can also avoid the problem of tinnitus. A hearing aid is the easiest way to bring your hearing back and help you get the most out of life.
Signs Of Hearing Loss
The first part of hearing to fade with age is the ability to discern high-frequency sounds. In speech, those are consonant sounds and digraphs, like âchâ and âsh. âWhen you can hear vowels but not consonants, it sounds like people arent speaking clearly, so its easy to blame them,â
âUsually, sound is going in both ears, but when youre talking on the phone its only going in one, which makes it more difficult â especially if you hold the phone to the ear that has more hearing loss,â says Alison Grimes, director of audiology at UCLA Health in Los Angeles. On top of that, phones dont perfectly transmit speech sounds, which compounds hearing issues, she says.
Only recently have cognitive neuroscientists sought to identify these associations neurobiological mechanisms between hearing loss and cognitive impairment.
Early intervention has proved to improve voice quality and keep it from getting worse for both those born deaf and those who have had their hearing impaired.
This presents a more specific picture of the extent to which problems with speech understanding in older people can be explained by diminished resources and age-related declines in abilities such as being able to hear.
Sensorineural Hearing Loss Causes
The identification and treatment of sensorineural hearing loss can be devastating, for it cannot be corrected either by medical or surgical procedures.read more
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What Causes Hearing Impairment
The most common cause of conductive hearing loss in kids and teens is otitis media, which is the medical term for an ear infection that affects the middle ear. Ear infections cause a buildup of fluid or pus behind the eardrum, which can block the transmission of sound. Even after the infection gets better, fluid might stay in the middle ear for weeks or even months, causing difficulty hearing.
But this fluid is usually temporary, and whether it goes away on its own or with the help of medications, once it’s gone a person’s hearing typically returns to normal. Blockages in the ear, such as a foreign object, impacted earwax or dirt, or fluid due to colds and allergies, can also cause conductive hearing loss.
People also get conductive hearing loss when key parts of the ear the eardrum, ear canal, or ossicles are damaged. For example, a tear or hole in the eardrum can interfere with its ability to vibrate properly. Causes of this damage may include inserting an object such as a cotton swab too far into the ear, a sudden explosion or other loud noise, a sudden change in air pressure, a head injury, or repeated ear infections.
Sensorineural hearing impairment results from problems with or damage to the inner ear or the auditory nerve. Its causes include:
Hearing Aid Myths That Hold You Back
Can hearing aids reduce these risks? Lin hopes to find out in a new study, still in the planning stages. These studies have never been done before, he notes. What we do know is that theres no downside to using hearing aids. They help most people who try them. And in those people, they can make all the difference in the worldallowing people to reengage with friends and family and to be more involved again.
Although nearly 27 million Americans age 50 and older have hearing loss, only one in seven uses a hearing aid. If you think your hearing has diminished, its worth making an appointment with an audiologist for a hearing check, Lin says. If you have hearing loss, dont let the following myths keep you from getting help.
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How Does Hearing Loss Affect Families
Approximately 48 million Americans live with hearing loss, according to the Hearing Loss Association of America. The mental and emotional effects of hearing loss can lead to feelings of social isolation, low self-confidence, and stress. Hearing loss can also impact your interactions with those who are close to you.
Effects Of Hearing Loss On The Brain
There are decades of research examining the connections between hearing loss and cognitive impairmentâproblems with memory and confusion that can be the initial stages of dementia. Specifically, many scentists have examined the links between age-related hearing loss and cognition.
A 2018 systematic review and meta-analysis published by The Journal of the American Medical Association found significant links between age-related hearing loss and cognitive decline, cognitive impairment, and the development of dementia.
Additionally, a 2021 study published by the Journal of Neurology found that hearing loss in the general population is associated with lower baseline levels of cognitive function and decreased performance on memory tests over timeâalthough more research is needed before scientists can definitively name hearing loss as a risk factor for cognitive decline.
One factor that could explain the links between hearing loss and cognition is the fact that sound processing and cognitive processing occur in the same areas of the brain.
âThe temporal lobe is the area of the brain which processes both auditory information and short-term memory storage,â Rhee Rosenman-Nesson, AuD, tells WebMD Connect to Care. âIt is also the first area to be affected by Alzheimerâs disease, so difficulty listening can potentially lead to a in this area.â
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Treatments For Hearing Loss To Improve Everyday Life
The good news is that there are many ways to help improve your hearing so you can start enjoying life again. The most common treatments include:
- Hearing Aids: Hearing aids have come a long way in the past decade thanks to technological advancements. You can now choose between either analogue or digital hearing aids. Analogue hearing aids work like a speaker to amplify sounds so you can hear more clearly. They can be adjusted based on your environment such as small rooms, being outdoors or in a noisy crowd. Digital hearing aids are more responsive adjusting automatically so you can increase hearing as needed. There are different models available in various sizes and fits including those you wear behind the ear, open-in-fit models worn behind the ear with a device in the ear canal, and those worn in the ear.
- Implanted Hearing Devices: These devices are surgically implanted to improve how sound vibrations are received in the inner ear. You can have middle ear implants attached to the bones of your middle ear for sensorineural hearing loss or bone-anchored hearing aids which work for a number of scenarios including single-sided deafness, conductive or mixed hearing loss.
- Cochlear Implants: Cochlear implants are designed for those with severe damage to the inner ear. They turn sound into electrical signals which are sent to the cochlea so the signals are sent to the brain and the sound can be heard.
Interacting With Others When You Have Hearing Loss
Another change that you might notice when you have hearing loss is in the way others interact with you. If people know that you have hearing loss, then they might take extra measures to ensure that you can hear them. For example, they might decide to speak louder and more directly to you, or they might speak a little slower and clearer just to ensure you can make out what theyre saying.
In that sense, hearing loss can affect communication by making others react differently when trying to converse with you. They might avoid using rapid sentences, they might make sure theyve got your attention before trying to speak, and they might avoid trying to converse with you unless youre in the same room.
Those that dont realize that you have hearing loss might have difficulty communicating with you at first. It may seem like youre ignoring them, or they might find it strange if you ask them to repeat what theyre saying several times. However, most people are easily more accepting of your hearing loss if you let them know, and most people will adjust the way they communicate with you to ensure that you can hear them properly.
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If Your Partner Says You Arent Hearing Well
Hearing loss is a equal opportunity offender, so its not inconceivable your spouse may gently suggest you have your hearing evaluated one day. If he or she does…
- Be receptive and try not to be offended. With 48 million Americans reporting some degree of hearing loss, youre in good company. Besides, for all the reasons we just stated, you arent the only one who is suffering here.
- Educate yourself about hearing loss. There are many different types of hearing loss and reasons why you should treat it.
- Agree to have your hearing tested. Only a qualified hearing healthcare professional can determine whether or not you have hearing loss, and to what extent. Fortunately, hearing tests are easy and painless. Some hearing centers even offer free evaluations with no obligation to purchase anything.
- If you have hearing loss, accept the diagnosis and seek treatment as soon as possible. Of the 48 million Americans with hearing loss, the NIDCD estimates more than 28.8 million of them would benefit from wearing hearing aids. Todays hearing devices arent anything like the ones your parents woretechnology has come a long way in the past ten years. Your hearing healthcare professional can help you find a treatment solution that fits your lifestyle as well as your pocketbook.
Regardless of who is on the receiving end of this serious health conversation, try to also have a sense of humor. Being able to laugh together can help diffuse the situation and put both of you at ease.
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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Joy Victory Managing Editor Healthy Hearing
Joy Victory has extensive experience editing consumer health information. Her training in particular has focused on how to best communicate evidence-based medical guidelines and clinical trial results to the public. She strives to make health content accurate, accessible and engaging to the public.Read more about Joy.
What Should You Not Do Before A Hearing Test
Dont let earwax get in between you and hearing the world around you. At least 2 days before your appointment for a hearing test, clean your ears of wax. Dont use cotton swabs or place anything in your ear smaller than your foot. Your ears can be easily damaged if you insert objects in your ear canal.
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How Hearing Loss Affects Life In Cities
The problems associated with hearing loss extend well beyond the office. When you leave to catch the bus or subway home, you rely on your hearing in a multitude of ways.
For instance, on the subway platform, when announcers cancel trains or let you know about delays, its hard enough to comprehend them over poor-quality PA systems without hearing loss. But when your ears cant pick up different words, and focusing on speech becomes hard, staying informed about transportation becomes a nightmare.
In unfamiliar cities, youll start to miss announcements about stops, or youll miss information given by station attendants. In the process, youll quickly come to understand how important speech is to getting around modern cities, even with all the apps in the world to guide us.
Then there are our fellow commuters. When we travel to and from work, we have to ask people to move aside, apologize, smile, say hello all of the little things that make massive movements of people run smoothly. If you cant hear well, it becomes more confusing and stressful to deal with strangers, particularly on packed buses or trains.
And finally theres the street. When you cant hear properly, it can be difficult to pick up the noise of approaching traffic, and pushbikes are really hard to detect, raising the risk of accidents.
The Facts On Hearing Loss Causes And Treatment
There are many causes of hearing loss. Some are unexpected and rare, but the most frequent causes are:
- Exposure to loud noise
- Ototoxic medications
The good news is that 9095% of people with hearing loss can be treated with hearing aids.
“My husband can finally hear me when Im talking to him from a different room. It puts a smile on my face!”
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What Research On Dementia And Hearing Loss Reveals
Most recently, a published in July 2021 found that people who struggle to hear speech in noise were more likely to develop dementia than those with normal hearing, as measured over an 11-year period. This was the first time that speech in noise was specifically studied. However, the study wasnt capable of determining if untreated hearing loss caused the dementia, only that theyre linked.
In a different study, a team at Johns Hopkins looked at cognitive impairment scores over six years for nearly 2,000 seniors. They concluded that those with hearing loss had a faster decline. The volunteers were all cognitively normal when the research began. But by the studys end, people with hearing loss were 24 percent more likely to meet the standard of cognitive impairment compared to people with normal hearing.
Another approach is to ask people whether theyve noticed a change. Measures of subjective decline can pick up losses before theyll show up on a test. A large studyusing data drawn from more than 10,000 men age 62 and upran over eight years. It found that the greater their hearing loss, the more likely men were to express concerns about their memory or thinking over time. With even a mild hearing loss, their chance of reporting cognitive decline was 30 percent higher than among those who did not report any hearing loss. With moderate or severe hearing loss, the risk was 42 and 52 percent higher.