Hearing loss is the third most common chronic condition in the U.S. It affects 48 million Americans to some degree. Surprisingly, many people are unaware they suffer from a hearing impairment, putting them at risk of developing serious physical, social and psychological health complications. Learning to spot the signs of hearing loss is key in treating the condition successfully.
Blame it on the Brain
You might think that hearing loss would be obvious, but the condition usually develops so gradually, it could take you a long time to realize there is a problem. Research shows that, on average, seven years elapse between the onset of hearing loss and when the patient first seeks medical treatment.
Blame it on the brain; when hearing begins to wane, your brain compensates by diverting cognitive resources from other areas to help “fill in the blanks.” Sounds great in theory, but your brain is essentially borrowing resources needed to promote memory, concentration and cognition. This can eventually lead to dementia and other serious complications. A Johns Hopkins study found that patients with moderate hearing loss were three times as likely to experience dementia, while the risk for those with severe hearing loss is five times greater.
Just because you can hear doesn’t mean you don’t have hearing loss. So, how can you know for sure?
How to Recognize the Signs of Hearing Loss
Spotting the signs of hearing loss early will help prevent many of the long-term complications associated with the condition. In addition to dementia, hearing-impaired individuals may experience anxiety, depression, social withdrawal and isolation and an increased risk of diabetes, kidney disease and falls.
Your Topeka ear, nose and throat doctor says the following are warning signs of hearing loss:
- You frequently say “what?” or ask others to repeat themselves
- You feel that other people mumble a lot
- You have difficulty following conversations in noisy environments
- You avoid social gatherings
- You watch television at a volume others find uncomfortable
- You notice a ringing in your ears
- You have trouble hearing women’s and children’s voices
- You are accused of speaking too loudly
If you are experiencing one or more of these signs, you should have your hearing checked by a qualified Topeka hearing professional.