May is Better Hearing and Speech Month, a time to raise awareness about communication disorders and available treatment options that can improve the quality of life for those who experience problems speaking, understanding, or hearing.
“Blindness cuts us off from things, but deafness cuts us off from people.” – Helen Keller
When it comes to the five senses (sight, smell, taste, touch and hear), all play an important role in our lives. Whether it’s the ability to feel pain when we touch a hot stove, smell and taste something delicious coming out of the oven, or see the faces of the people we love, our senses help us navigate the world around us. And they all arguably make our lives a bit richer.
But there’s one sense that enables us to connect to the world and communicate with others in a way that none of the other senses do: hearing. So, it goes without saying that hearing loss, even in the slightest, has a profound effect on our daily lives. Without the ability to hear, we can become cut off from the people in our world.
When we lose the ability to hear, common everyday conversations suddenly become more difficult. The person with the hearing loss can miss key points in a discussion, and the other person(s) in the conversation can become frustrated by being asked to repeat themselves.
If the problem isn’t addressed, relationships may suffer and there may be a complete breakdown in communication.
But hearing loss has consequences beyond strains in communication.
Other impacts of hearing loss
Hearing enhances our quality of life, be it listening to music, watching a movie, or simply listening to the birds chirping and the wind blowing leaves around. But, when we lose to ability to hear, we are presented with several consequences. Even mild hearing loss can have a grave impact on our daily lives and should never be underestimated.
For example, hearing alerts us to the possibility of danger and our own safety. We hear a car’s honk, a severe weather siren or the approach of someone behind us who may want to cause us harm.
Hearing loss also has an impact on our mental health. In fact, in recent years much research has been done in this area and scientific evidence shows a connection between unassisted hearing loss and cognitive decline and dementia.
“Untreated hearing loss has been shown to increase the risk of depression in older adults by 40 percent and the risk of dementia by 50 percent over 10 years,” says Nancy J. Donovan, MD, director of the division of Geriatric Psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital – affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital. “Compared to older adults with intact hearing, those with hearing impairment are also more likely to report anxiety and lower levels of positive feelings such as happiness and a personal sense of effectiveness.”
That’s why even the slightest decline in hearing should be checked out by a professional.
Signs of hearing loss
According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), approximately 15% of American adults aged 18 and older report some trouble hearing.
Decline in hearing can happen at any age and some signs to look for include:
- Difficulty understanding speech when in a noisy environment
- Needing to turn the volume on the TV or radio up more frequently
- Difficulty hearing the person on the other end of the telephone
- Asking people to repeat themselves
There is no shame to hearing loss and it can be easily identified and treated.
If you are curious about your hearing health, or if you are 55 years or older and would like a screening, call us at 715-531-6800 to request your comprehensive hearing evaluation today.
Learn more about our Audiology services.