At Hearing Group, we’ve got our calendars marked for March 3rd, when we observe World Hearing Day. World Hearing Day is a collective effort to raise education, awareness and access to hearing healthcare, started by the World Health Organization. This year, World Hearing Day is focusing on an important step in maintaining your hearing – getting a hearing test.
Hearing exams are simple and non-intrusive but many people procrastinate about scheduling their next checkup. On average, people wait seven years between when they first notice a hearing issue and when they get it examined. While hearing loss often occurs gradually and with subtlety, most people don’t realize that delaying treatment for hearing loss can encourage the problem to worsen – and affect other aspects of your health. By making an annual exam a routine, you stay on top of your hearing wellness, catching problems before they get worse.
Hearing Loss and You
Knowledge is power, so understanding the facts about hearing loss is important, and can help you understand why hearing exams are a key component in maintaining your health. Hearing loss can be caused by a variety of factors and it can manifest itself in many different ways. Most often, hearing loss happens gradually throughout our lifetime and is related to hazardous noise exposure.
This permanent, gradual damage from dangerous noise levels is related to the way the inner ear functions. While many parts of our body have ways of repairing themselves, the delicate cells responsible for detecting sound waves in the air cannot replace themselves when they are damaged. The only “hair cells” our ears will ever have are the ones we are born with. This means an injured cell goes out of commission for the rest of your life and each hair cell lost further limits our ability to effectively detect sound.
Loud noises cause stress to the hair cells and carry the potential to damage them. If we don’t protect our hearing from loud sounds, hearing damage accrues. Research also demonstrates that hair cells become more fragile as we age. By age 65, about one third of the population has significant hearing loss. At age 90 that percentage jumps to 90%. Hearing exams are a good way to monitor your hearing as you age, and catch hearing problems in their early stages.
The Benefit of Early Treatment
Regular hearing exams – we recommend making an annual exam part of your health routine- can put you ahead of the curve when issues arise. On average, people wait 7 years from the time they first notice a hearing change until they get a hearing exam. A lot can happen in this lag time, so hearing health should never be low priority. First of all, if hearing loss is present, it can continue to worsen in the time we delay having it examined. When our hearing deteriorates it not only represents a loss of hair cells, it is also closely connected to big cognitive changes.
Listening with hearing loss means you constantly have to fill in the gaps in your hearing to understand what is being said. This job falls to the brain to do, and our brain prioritizes this task, pulling focus away from other cognitive functions. This means we have less brain power to go around and trying to hear can start to feel physically and mentally exhausting. The brain also has to carve new neural pathways to decipher incomplete sounds, overwriting the mental pathways of healthy hearing.
When people with long-unaddressed hearing loss seek treatment, adjusting to a new hearing device has the added challenge of needing to retrain the brain to hear sounds it has gotten used to working around. Catching hearing loss early and treating it makes adjusting to hearing aids easier and more fluid, since the brain has had less time to shape itself to accommodate hearing issues. A regular hearing screening establishes a health history for your hearing and means hearing loss can be detected in its earliest stages when it is easiest to treat.
Ready to make World Hearing Day part of your calendar? At Hearing Group, we can help. We offer exceptional care and comprehensive hearing testing to make sure you connect with the hearing solutions you need. Don’t wait – set up an appointment today and get on the path to hearing wellness.