There are numerous misconceptions about hearing loss that contribute to the stigma associated with the health condition. Hearing loss is one of the fastest-growing health concerns today and it is often underdiagnosed – having multifaceted effects on overall health. Debunking common myths is an important way to gain a greater understanding of hearing loss, support seeking treatment, and practice preventative measures.
Fiction: Hearing loss only impacts older people.
Fact: Hearing loss affects people of all ages and can develop at any age.
A common misconception about hearing loss is that it only impacts the elderly. While age is a significant indicator, anyone can develop hearing loss. One of the most common causes is exposure to loud noise. Loud noise can damage the hair cells in the inner ear which are responsible for translating incoming soundwaves into electrical signals. These signals are then carried to the brain to be further processed and assigned meaning to which is what enables us to understand what we hear. Loud noise can cause the sensory cells in the inner ear to lose sensitivity, reducing their capacity to function and this causes permanent hearing loss. According to the World Health Organization, over 1 billion people – ages 12 to 35 – are at increased risk of developing noise-induced hearing loss. This highlights that young teens and adults are vulnerable to developing hearing loss.
Fiction: Hearing loss is not a serious health issue and it can be cured.
Fact: Hearing loss is a permanent medical condition that cannot be cured but effectively managed.
People often think that they can delay treating hearing loss because their hearing is not that bad and can be fixed later. But putting off treatment can worsen impairment and contribute to additional health issues. Hearing loss is often caused by damaged hair cells in the inner ear. Unlike other types of cells, these sensory cells do not regenerate. This means that when they lose sensitivity and/or eventually die, this is permanent. There are no medical interventions that can reverse or correct this, resulting in permanent hearing loss.
Fiction: You can just talk louder so people with hearing loss can hear better.
Fact: Speaking louder can make it more challenging to hear and does not maximize hearing capacity.
Another common misconception about hearing loss is that people can simply project their voices so that others can hear more clearly. But speaking louder can further distort or muffle speech and sound, making it more difficult to hear. Hearing loss is experienced differently and symptoms can vary depending on the degree of impairment that is present in each ear. Increasing volume can create more challenges for hearing rather than being helpful. It is also not a sustainable solution for hearing loss which is a chronic issue that needs long-term treatment.
Fiction: Hearing loss doesn’t affect your health.
Fact: Hearing health is an integral component of overall health. Extensive research also shows that untreated hearing loss can increase health risks.
Hearing is just as important to one’s health as blood pressure, bone health, immune system health, etc. Substantial studies show that hearing loss that remains untreated contributes to increased health risks. Untreated hearing loss can increase the risk of experiencing other health issues like cognitive decline, depression, and accidental injuries. Hearing happens in the ears as well as the brain and untreated hearing loss can reduce cognitive functions that are important for speech comprehension. This impacts overall brain health and increases the risk of dementia. Hearing loss also impacts mental health by often leading to social withdrawal, producing strain on relationships, and contributing to stress. Additionally, untreated hearing loss reduces spatial awareness which creates more likelihood of accidental injuries.
Fiction: Hearing aids are inconvenient, outdated, and bulky.
Fact: Hearing aids have benefitted from significant innovation and advancements in technology. Today’s hearing aids are sleeker and more powerful than ever.
There is a wide range of hearing aid options. This includes a variety of styles, features, and technologies that are designed to seamlessly integrate the device into daily life. From Bluetooth technology to feedback reduction, and voice recognition features, as well as smartphone capabilities; today’s hearing aids, are highly innovative and exciting pieces of technology that maximize hearing capacity.