Accepting your hearing loss is the first step to improving your health! Coming to terms with the challenges of impaired hearing is not easy. It is normal to feel isolated, angry, unsure about what to do, and frustrated. But it is important to know that hearing loss is actually a common health concern that many people are navigating today. According to the National Institute of Health, one in eight people (above the age of 12) in the U.S. experience some degree of hearing loss. This is significant and means that you are not alone.
Fortunately, there is effective treatment available to improve your hearing. Once you are able to accept that your hearing ability has changed, you can take the steps needed to reclaim your health!
Impact of Hearing Loss
The impact of decreased hearing ability is substantial. Hearing loss really can impact all aspects of your life. You may feel many emotions deeply as you are struggling to navigate and adjust including:
- Anger/Frustration: When experiencing hearing loss, communication can become challenging. Trying to follow conversations and hearing information clearly is difficult. This makes participating in day to day activities (work, hobbies etc.) a struggle. Understandably, this can make you feel angry and frustrated because the things you once did with ease, are now hard and can often feel like more work than pleasure.
- Fatigue: During conversations, you may find yourself asking others to repeat themselves, reading mouths, and not hearing complete sentences. Expending this kind of extra energy can be exhausting! You can feel drained after conversations.
- Isolation: Social settings, environments with loud background noises, conversations with multiple people can feel like too much, or simply not worth the effort (and later fatigue). You may find yourself avoiding social activities and family gatherings. Spending less time with your friends and family can affect your mental health. Isolation can contribute to depression, anxiety, and general unhappiness.
If left untreated, your hearing loss can deepen these unwanted feelings. This can shape your daily life and significantly impact your overall health. Coming to terms with how you are feeling so that you can take action is a necessary step in feeling better. Getting tested and knowing exactly what your experiencing with your hearing is absolutely beneficial.
Hearing loss often happens gradually so you may not fully realize that it is happening. This is dangerous because your hearing may continue to decline and worsen. This is why is it incredibly important to get tested. The purpose of a hearing test is to determine if you are experiencing any impairment, the degree, and type.
A hearing assessment is a noninvasive, relatively quick, and painless. The process involves:
- Intake: similar to other medical appointments, you will complete intake paperwork and discuss this information with a hearing healthcare provider. You can expect to discuss your medical history and lifestyle (profession, hobbies etc.). This is important information because various factors can contribute to hearing loss.
- Physical Exam of Ears: the specialist will use an otoscope, an instrument used to inspect your ears. They will be looking for things that may be preventing your ears from processing sound: damage, injuries, or wax buildup. If needed, they will remove any wax.
- Hearing Test: you will wear headphones connected to an audiometer which is a device used to conduct the test. The hearing healthcare provider will play sounds and speech at different volumes and pitches. You will indicate hearing the sounds by pressing a button. This will establish the softest sound you can hear in both ears.
- Results: your results will be presented on an audiogram, a chart that visually represents your hearing ability. The hearing specialist will discuss where your hearing is at and effect ways to treat any impairment.
This establishes your hearing health needs. Hearing loss can be effectively treated and by doing so, your quality of life can drastically improve.
With all of the advanced technology that exists today, there are several ways that hearing loss is treated. The most common treatment is hearing aids. Hearings aids are small devices that help absorb, amplify, and process sound. They increase your hearing ability so that you can better navigate your life!