Research shows that there is a strong link between loss of hearing and physical and mental health. The average person can wait up to ten years after being diagnosed with a hearing issue before they actually take action and fit a hearing aid. The problem that can be faced here is that untreated hearing loss can actually make the situation worse. When the nerves that are responsible for carrying sound to the brain are not used, their effectiveness will start to decrease. This is why I believe it is so crucial for us to take action before any signs of hearing loss become noticeable. Deteriorating hearing may be happening for years without us noticing.
As we reach the age of 50 and beyond, it is time to start thinking about regular hearing tests. That way, any hearing problem can be addressed and steps taken to limit or slow the loss of hearing. This is especially important if you begin to notice some of the common signs of hearing loss. This includes everyday issues such as having to turn the television on louder or having trouble hearing on the phone. It is important to talk to your doctor about this.
Whilst it is general knowledge that things such as excessive loud noise or injury to the ear (e.g. perforated ear drums) can lead to hearing loss, I tend to find that there is not a lot said about general health and it’s link with hearing loss. Studies from John Hopkins (see link) actually shows correlation between health issues and hearing. Now obviously as we grow older our health will deteriorate and the same goes for hearing. So I would agree we could argue that of course there will be a link between the two. However this is not the point I am trying to make and it is also not the point of many studies into hearing and health.
We need to start paying more attention to our hearing and our general health. Regular health check ups should include a hearing test. This is often overlooked, and doctors will often not suggest it unless it is raised as an issue.
There is a range of studies that show that the older generation suffering from hearing loss, are also much more likely to develop conditions such as dementia. As someones hearing loss worsens, the risk increases. So if something can be done at an early stage to slow or prevent hearing loss, then we may actually also be able to decrease the risk of a range of other health issues. E.g. using hearing aids to slow or limit the issue may possibly also limit other health problems down the track.
Having regular (every one to two years) hearing checks once we reach the age of fifty is important. We already know that hearing loss is something that develops over time and it can often be hard to realise there is an issue until much later down the track. A simple hearing test can help detect these sorts of things early on. I guess the real point is, finding out about hearing loss early on can prevent or at least slow the process.
If you are a deaf or hearing impaired person, I would encourage you to visit nad.org for further information.