Myths about Hearing Loss

Though hearing loss is one of the most common health conditions people experience today, it remains undertreated. Over 48 million people live with some degree of hearing loss but only a third of people who could benefit from treatment receive it. It takes an average of 7 years for people to address their hearing loss. Contributing to this widespread inaction are the numerous misconceptions and stigma associated with hearing loss that prevent people from acknowledging changes to their hearing health. Deconstructing these myths and learning more about hearing loss can support you in taking the steps to prioritize your hearing health. 

 

Fiction: Hearing loss only impacts older adults. 

Fact: Hearing loss can develop at any age. 

One of the most common misconceptions about hearing loss is that only older adults develop the condition as a result of aging. While aging is one cause of hearing loss, there are several other ways that hearing loss can develop. This includes existing medical conditions, head injuries, and exposure to loud noise. One-time or consistent exposure to loud noise is a common way hearing is damaged, a factor that impacts people of all ages. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that over 1 billion people (ages 12 – 35) are at increased risk of developing noise-induced hearing loss as a result of loud noise exposure. 

 

Fiction: I can still hear so my hearing loss is not that bad. 

Fact: Hearing loss exists on a spectrum and a delay in treatment often causes impairment to worsen.

People can think that because they are still able to hear, albeit not clearly, their hearing is not too damaged. But this is usually an earlier sign of hearing loss which can worsen over time if left untreated. Hearing loss can be mild to profound with wide-ranging degrees of impairment that is possible. Early signs of hearing loss include still being able to hear but having a more challenging time in nosier environments, sounds may be muffled here and there, you may be asking others to repeat themselves, etc. It is important to address this right away so you can prevent severe hearing loss from developing. 

 

Fiction: Hearing loss is not life-threatening so it’s not a serious condition. 

Fact: hearing loss produces multifaceted effects that can increase health risks. 

Hearing loss is a chronic condition that results in a reduced capacity to hear and process speech as well as sound. This produces various symptoms that make it challenging to navigate conversations. Strained communication has numerous effects that impact all aspects of life including relationships, work performance, social life, and overall health. Untreated hearing loss increases the risk of experiencing cognitive decline, depression, and accidental injuries. 

 

Fiction: Hearing loss is curable so I can seek treatment later. 

Fact: the most common type of hearing loss people experience is an incurable chronic condition. 

Sensorineural hearing loss is the most common form of hearing loss – accounting for an estimated 90% of all cases of hearing loss. This type occurs when hair cells in the inner ear are damaged. These sensory cells are responsible for converting incoming sound waves into electrical signals that get sent to the brain which is then able to assign meaning to the sound we hear. Damage to the hair cells reduces their capacity to carry out this essential function, resulting in permanent hearing loss. Because these hair cells do not regenerate and there are no medical interventions that can replenish them, this damage is incurable. Hearing loss can be effectively managed and intervening early significantly helps with treatment.  

Fiction: Hearing aids are outdated devices that are too bulky to wear. 

Fact: Today’s hearing aids are sleeker and more varied than ever before. 

The most common treatment for hearing loss is hearing aids. These are electronic devices that are designed to detect, absorb, and amplify sound. This provides ample support, making it easier to hear. When you imagine hearing aids, you likely picture bulky devices that are worn behind the ear. But today’s hearing aids have benefited tremendously from advancements in technology. There is a wide range of options that offer various features and technologies that are designed to seamlessly integrate the device into daily life. There are also numerous sleek designs, styles, and colors to choose from.