The National Institute in Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) says that about 15% of the US adult population has some difficulty hearing. While hearing loss can happen at any age, it becomes more common as we get older.
This is because our hearing system experiences more noise abuse over time — a loud work environment, higher than normal headphone volumes, loud music, and media exposure — that can damage the inner ear.
The numbers of people with a disabling hearing loss are as follows:
- Ages from 45 to 54 – 2%
- Ages from 55 to 64 – 8.5%
- Ages from 65 to 74 – 25%
- Ages from 75+ – 50%
Why Do People Avoid Treating Their Hearing Loss?
Many people lack awareness of the common signs of hearing loss, and primary care physicians fail to recommend hearing screenings. Loud work environments are accepted as normal, and the hearing loss is so gradual that it’s not noticed until people start pointing it out.
Even if people suspect that they have difficulty hearing, they are reluctant to get it checked because of their dislike of admitting their need for hearing assistance and of acknowledging that they are aging.
They assume they’ll be told to wear a hearing aid, and they think it’ll be the kind of hearing aid they saw their grandparents wear, not knowing how far hearing assistance technology has come in the last twenty years or so.
What Are the Most Common Signs of Hearing Loss?
The initial signs of hearing loss can include:
- Misunderstandings – not hearing words clearly, especially on the phone
- Difficulty with general conversations
- Having others repeat themselves or standing closer to hear them
- Turning the television volume up higher than others in the room would like it
- Accusing those around them of mumbling or not speaking loudly enough
- Tinnitus – a ringing or buzzing sound in the ears
As well as the signs mentioned above, a loved one:
- Keeps asking their spouse to repeat themselves
- Responds to something other than what you’ve said
- Has a hard time hearing grandchildren
- Withdraws from social situations due to their difficulty understanding what’s said
Do These Signs Sound Familiar?
The first step to address hearing loss concerns is to get a hearing screening. This will give us a good idea of your hearing ability, and it allows us to develop a custom plan for treating your hearing issue if we find one, depending on what’s causing it. It might be something as simple as cleaning out built-up earwax.
Never assume that hearing loss means an instant hearing aid. We have so many treatment options that can help you enjoy your social life and your family again.
Why Are Regular Tests So Important?
Early intervention is key. Untreated hearing loss results in changes to the brain and is much more difficult to treat.
We think regular hearing checks are so important that we offer our patients a free hearing assessment every year. It’s the best way to ensure the most optimal treatment path when hearing issues do show up and/or change, and by having a baseline result now, we’ll notice changes immediately in the future.
Contact us to schedule a hearing assessment in Petaluma or San Rafael so you can get back to living a life that’s free of the frustration of not hearing things clearly.