Hearing Loss: Separating Fact from Fiction

Hearing loss is a condition that affects 48 million Americans. There are several misconceptions surrounding hearing loss, like that it only happens to people over the age of 70, that are untrue. It is important to distinguish the myths from the truth, as hearing health greatly impacts overall health conditions such as balance, cognitive health, heart health, and even mental and emotional health.

Here are several common myths about hearing loss:

Myth Exposed: The most common cause of hearing loss is advancing age.

The truth is, exposure to loud noise is the number one cause of hearing loss; only 35% of people with hearing loss are older than age 64. There are nearly six million people in the U.S. between the ages of 18 and 44 with hearing loss, and more than one million are school age. Hearing loss affects all age groups. Hereditary factors and health conditions like heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and other circulatory problems also cause hearing loss along with certain medications like aspirin, some antibiotics and chemotherapy drugs.

Myth Exposed: Only people with serious hearing loss need hearing devices.

The need for hearing amplification is dependent on your lifestyle, your degree of hearing loss and your need for a more sophisticated level of hearing. If you are a teacher or a lawyer, for example, refined hearing is necessary to understand the nuances of communication. Therefore you may not be able to tolerate even a mild level of hearing loss. On the other hand, if you live alone or in a rural area and seldom socialize, then your tolerance level for moderate hearing loss may be higher.

Myth Exposed: If I had a hearing loss, my family doctor would have told me

Incorrect, reports the Better Hearing Institute. Their studies indicate a mere 14% of physicians routinely screen for hearing loss during a physical. Besides, the quiet atmosphere in a doctor’s office makes hearing loss very difficult to detect. Audiology is a specialty that relies on training many doctors do not have, making them ill equipped to diagnose hearing loss.

Myth Exposed: Hearing devices will make me look older.

Hearing devices don’t make you look older; the fact that you cannot hear, understand and communicate normally with others make you look older. Those who cater to vanity pay the price when they are unable to function normally, and it’s next to impossible to hide the condition; smiling and nodding your head is bound to get you into trouble on occasion. If you are that concerned over appearance, many of today’s hearing devices are so tiny they fit into your ear canal and are virtually invisible to others.

Myth Exposed: Hearing devices aren’t worth the expense.

What price would you put on quality of life? Research studies indicate 9 out of 10 people with hearing devices believe their quality of life has improved. Overall satisfaction in people who have worn hearing devices for one year is 78%, close to satisfaction ratings for most consumer electronics. Effective communication is just one of the benefits of hearing devices; users report improvements in their relationships, emotional and physical well-being, self-confidence, sense of humor, mental and cognitive skills, and sense of safety.

About the author.

Gina Wendricks, AuD, CCC-A, is an audiologist at HFM Hearing and Balance. Dr. Wendricks offers a scope of audiology services, including adult and pediatric hearing evaluations, hearing aid fittings, assistive listening devices, balance evaluations, and hearing protective devices. For more information on hearing health, or to schedule a hearing consultation, please call HFM Hearing and Balance at (920) 320-4760.