Hearing Loss Facts
About Hearing Loss - Growing Fastest Among Baby Boomers, Yet Largely Ignored
Hearing is essential to full enjoyment and participation in life. Unfortunately, today 1 in 10 Americans - over 36 million people - experience some degree of hearing loss. Hearing loss is the third leading chronic health condition among Americans, after arthritis and high blood pressure.
Consequences Of Untreated Hearing Loss
Think you may be hard of hearing? You might be a little surprised to know that the typical person with hearing problems waits over five years to see a health care professional about their hearing loss*. Although hearing loss is not a life threatening condition, it does lower the overall quality of life for those suffering from it. The good news is that clinical studies have shown that when hearing aids are properly fitted they significantly improve the overall quality of life for their users.
The downside of choosing to wait until your hearing problems get worse before you start wearing hearing aids, or not wearing them at all, has also been well-documented. Below is a list of the reasons for taking action today. Evidence clearly shows that there are serious negative consequences if you wait to use hearing aids if you need them. Talk to your Miracle-Ear hearing care professional to find out if now is the best time to start using hearing aids.
1. The Effects Of Auditory Deprivation
Auditory deprivation is the term used to describe a decrease in speech understanding resulting from a hearing loss. In simple terms, hearing loss starves the auditory centers in the brain of acoustic information. The good news is that hearing aids, which allow the auditory centers of your brain to "stay busy", have been proven to help this potential problem. Using hearing aids now will stave off the effects of auditory deprivation.
2. Hearing Loss & Dementia
For years, doctors noted that older patients with hearing loss also suffered from high rates of dementia. But they couldn't tell how the two were connected.
A study by Johns Hopkins and the National Institute on Aging proves that there's a causal link between untreated hearing loss and cognitive dysfunction. Researchers believe the issue is something called "cognitive reserve." When the brain is working and devoting extra resources to deciphering words and sounds, it simply loses capacity. And the isolation brought on by hearing loss compounds the problem, as people with fewer social interactions have less stimulation and get far less "exercise" for their brains.
3. Hearing Loss and Income
A study of 40,000 households, conducted by the Better Hearing Institute, found that people with untreated hearing loss earn significantly less than people with normal hearing or those who treat their hearing loss . And the difference can be as much as $30,000 per year in annual income. The good news is high-quality hearing aids correct this discrepancy up to 90% - 100%, depending on the degree of hearing loss.
4. Social And Emotional Impact Of Untreated Hearing Loss
There is also considerable evidence suggesting that patients with untreated hearing loss suffer more from depression and social isolation compared to those of similar age who wear hearing aids. Patients with hearing loss are more likely to be depressed and suffer from the many quality of life effects of it, than patients of similar hearing loss that have chosen to wear hearing instruments.
Types of Hearing Loss
Sensorineural Hearing Loss
Sensorineural loss is related to a problem in the inner ear or the pathway between the ears and the brain. It is the most common form of hearing loss in otherwise healthy adults and is the type most commonly treated with hearing aids. Causes include:
- Ear Infections
- Noise exposure
Conductive Hearing Loss
Conductive loss refers to a decrease in sound caused by a problem or obstruction in the outer or middle ear and usually indicates normal inner ear activity. This loss is usually treatable with medical or surgical intervention. Causes include:
- Wax in the ear canal
- Perforation of the ear drum
- Fluid in the middle ear
Tinnitus is a condition that affects those suffering from it, to experience a constant ringing in the ears. There are a number of potential causes of tinnitus including noise-induced hearing loss, ear infections, ear wax build-up, or it could be a side effect from ototoxic drugs. Tinnitus also sometimes accompanies hearing loss.
Hearing Loss Causes
Noise-Induced Hearing Loss
Car horns. Jet planes. iPods. Headphones. Rock concerts. Aerobics classes. Lawn mowers. Office equipment.
We are constantly exposed to noises like these throughout our days, sometimes at levels that can cause hearing damage over time. Noise induced hearing disorders are completely preventable, because they are caused by overexposure to high volume sounds. The louder the sound you are exposed to, the shorter period of exposure it takes to damage the hair cells inside of your ear that transmit sounds to your brain.
Exposure to exceptionally loud noises at an event like a loud music concert can cause a temporary hearing impairment (sometimes accompanied by ringing in the ears), that goes away over time.
The best way to prevent noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) is to avoid harmful noises, and if you need to be exposed to them, use hearing protection. Miracle-Ear offers advanced hearing protection with the Miracle-Ear Guardian.
Hearing Loss: Not just a problem for the "elderly"
Those who are "hard of hearing" are not necessarily senior citizens anymore, partially due to the proliferations of mobile music devices like smartphones. About 40% of the hearing impaired are younger than 65 - and Baby Boomers are the fastest-growing group experiencing hearing loss today. Unfortunately, the problem of hearing loss is "growing younger". 15% of recent college graduates have as much or more hearing loss than their parents. And over two million Americans with hearing loss are under the age of 18.
The Miracle-Ear Foundation
Since 1990 the Miracle-Ear Foundation has been providing hearing aids, follow-up care, and educational resources to people with hearing loss who demonstrate personal inability to financially provide for their hearing health needs. We do this because we believe everyone in our community deserves quality hearing instruments.