Hearing loss is very common, especially as we age. In fact, almost 20% of American adults report some degree of hearing difficulty*. In adults over 60, that number jumps to 30%**. In other words, if you believe you’re experiencing hearing loss, you’re not alone.
3 in 10 adults over age 60 have hearing loss*. 80% haven’t been diagnosed or treated**.
*National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD). (2010). Quick Statistics. www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/statistics/quick.htm
**Kochkin, Sergei. (2011). Prevalence of Hearing Loss. Better Hearing Institute, www.betterhearing.org
While your hearing loss may seem insignificant now — something you can deal with by simply turning the TV louder or asking friends to repeat themselves — it impacts more than you think.
To make matters worse, studies have shown that the effects of hearing loss are cumulative. Just as muscles grow weak from lack of use, the brain loses its ability to process sounds and recognize speech without regular auditory stimulation. By the time you finally acknowledge your hearing loss is real, you may have already lost the full appreciation of sounds and music you once enjoyed.
Everyone has different reasons for why they put off seeking help for hearing loss, from price issues and vanity concerns to preconceived and often outdated ideas of how hearing aids perform.
The good news is that today’s hearing aids — like all high-tech devices — have come a long way in terms of looks and performance. And independent research shows that hearing aid usage has a positive effect on1:
1 Source: www.betterhearing.org
Tinnitus can be a symptom of some other illness. First have a complete medical examination to determine if you can be treated medically or surgically. There is no magic pill that has been shown to be effective in controlled studies for a large proportion of tinnitus patients. However, there are several treatments that can help people cope with their tinnitus. These include the following:
There are several different devices that produce these sounds:
Sound therapy does not have to be used all the time. It is possible to obtain a noise generator and a hearing aid in the same wearable device.
The brain naturally habituates to sounds that are unimportant. For example, within seconds of entering a room, our brain ignores a noisy refrigerator. Retraining Therapy combines counseling and habituation to reduce your fear of tinnitus and structure your environment to ensure that you are frequently in the presence of low levels of background noise. Wearable noise generators are necessary for this treatment.
Most patients with tinnitus also have a hearing loss and can benefit from a hearing aid. About half the patients with hearing aids no longer notice their tinnitus after putting on aids. Also, better communication reduces stress, which could reduce tinnitus.
Although medications generally do not cure tinnitus, they can be helpful in reducing stress and in getting to sleep.
Even though you already have hearing loss, it is important you protect the hearing you have remaining. We have many loud sounds present in our world today. A basic rule of thumb is that if you have to shout to be heard in an environment, it is too loud.