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The last time we regularly underwent hearing tests was probably when we were in school. Few Americans include regular hearing screenings in their schedule of health maintenance checks. For instance, you’ve likely had a few vision tests in the last decade, while it’s unlikely that you’ve visited an audiologist.
But our widespread cultural tendency to avoid hearing screenings in this country is not based upon real-life impacts of hearing loss. Hearing loss is one of the leading chronic health complaints of Americans, with more than one in eight people over the age of twelve demonstrating hearing loss in both ears.
The implications of hearing loss, particularly undiagnosed and untreated hearing loss are vast. It can lead to emotional and mental health decline, poor performance in the workplace and wage losses, a narrowing of connection with loved ones, and even an increased risk of dementia.
If you’re going to take action on one health matter in the New Year, why not decide to make your hearing health a priority?
How often should you have your hearing tested?
There’s a quick rule of thumb to discover how often you should have your hearing tested. Until you reach the age of 50, it’s okay to have your hearing tested every 10 years. After your 50th birthday, though, close the gap a bit and schedule hearing tests every three years.
Of course, if you or a loved one has recently noticed changes in your hearing, the right time to get your hearing tested is right away! The first signs of hearing loss can be subtle, and we are very adaptable creatures, so it might even be that your friends and family notice hearing loss first.
The early symptoms will probably include trouble with speech clarity and sound on the higher end of the frequency spectrum, like children’s voices or birdsong. You might find yourself asking ‘What?’ more often in conversation and telephone chats might become more difficult.
Age-related hearing loss
While hearing loss can be experienced by any person during any stage of life, age continues to be the leading predictor of hearing loss. The reason experts urge folks over the age of 50 to increase their hearing test regularity is that we are much more likely to experience hearing loss in our later years.
By the time we reach 65 years of age, one-third of our peers will have hearing loss. When we reach 85, that number jumps to include half of us!
The natural aging process causes a decline in hearing because of the way our hearing works. The extremely important cells located in the inner ear are responsible for gathering external noise from the world and transmitting it as sound information to the brain. These cells are sensitive and non-regenerative, meaning that they do not repair themselves or reproduce. We have to make do with what we are born with.
Over time, these cells (like so many others in our body) begin to decline. They can no longer pick up the wide range of frequencies and noises occurring in the world around us. Less sound information is captured by our ears and in turn, less sound reaches our brain. The experience of this is hearing loss.
The perks of treating hearing loss
Though hearing loss cannot be reversed, it is a very treatable condition. Hearing aids have been shown to have a high satisfaction rate, with wearers reporting improved relationships and more confidence. Most hearing aid wearers would recommend them to a friend with hearing loss.
People are motivated to treat their hearing loss for all sorts of reasons. One individual might do so at the urging of their family members, to maintain close relationships and time spent with loved ones. For another person, hearing loss might be most threatening to their professional life and hearing aids might give them more confidence in workplace meetings and interactions. Whatever the reason you decide to seek treatment, know that after a period of adjustment, you’ll be boosting your quality of life for decades to come.
Schedule a hearing test today
If you’re ready to make this year one where you take control over your hearing health, schedule a hearing test today. Our team of professionals will guide you through the quick and easy process of a simple hearing exam. From there, we can explore possible solutions together and design a plan to guide you to your healthiest hearing future.