By Mark Gustina
There is no magical age or event that must occur before someone gets their hearing checked. For the more than 40 million Americans with some hearing loss, many do not realize their ability to hear and differentiate sounds has diminished because the loss is so gradual. Most people compensate in the ways they interact with people as their hearing gets worse.
Now that nearly everyone is wearing masks to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, more people have noticed their hearing is compromised. Sounds may be somewhat muffled through a mask, and it is impossible to even quasi-lip read when one cannot see the speaker’s lips. COVID-19 and mask wearing are not going away any time soon, so it is time to stop postponing getting a hearing evaluation.
Below are some other points to ponder about why now is an excellent time to get your hearing checked.
When one person has a hearing problem, the whole family has a hearing problem.
Hearing loss impacts the entire family unit and close friends in a negative way. Over time, loved ones begin to stop saying little, “insignificant” things. The small banter throughout the day, which helps keep families and close friends bonded, might cease. Family relations might become strained. While the person with hearing loss reports significant benefit to their lives through treatment, their loved ones report an even greater benefit.
The costs of hearing aids are no longer prohibitive.
Nearly every health insurance company covers hearing evaluations. Many also cover at least a portion of the cost of hearing aids. For those who have considered hearing aids in the past but couldn’t afford them, there are nonprofits like So the World May Hear and Lyons Club that help with finances. Federal employees often receive hearing aid coverage. Hearing damage can occur at any age.
Even the younger generations may benefit from a hearing evaluation.
Approximately 13% of preteens already have some hearing loss, which could negatively impact school work. Almost 9% of people have hearing loss by their mid50s. Hearing loss is often associated with aging, and sensorineural hearing loss cannot be reversed.
Hearing aids could delay or prevent dementia.
Johns Hopkins University reports delaying or preventing dementia may be as simple as wearing a hearing aid. With research findings from a reputable university, why would anyone over the age of 50 wait to have a hearing test?
There are a lot of myths about correcting hearing loss.
Myths abound about correcting hearing loss, and some people embrace the falsehoods that diet, herbal supplements and exercise can reverse inner ear damage. These remedies do not work.
Now is the time to see if you have hearing loss. With the help of an audiologist and hearing aids, you can begin to slow down its progression. In addition, it is never too late to start protecting your inner ear from additional damage by wearing earplugs during extremely loud activities, such as at concerts.
Many of those who are fitted with proper custom hearing aids are thrilled with the results. The most common response audiologists hear from patients when they come for their two-week follow-up is, “Why didn’t I do this years ago? I can already tell how this is going to change my life.”
Regardless of whether the hearing test shows significant hearing loss, hearing evaluations should become part of everyone’s health review every couple of years, since there is no way to reverse hearing loss. Hearing never improves on its own.
The writer is audiologist and owner of Cosmetic Hearing Solutions.