Posted on Monday, May 14, 2012

Hearing Health Misconception

A couple jogging. People tend to put treating hearing loss below treating other aspects of health.

A recent study run by the AARP and the American Speech-Language-Hearing Assocation (ASHA) yielded some surprising results when it comes to hearing health. It's not shocking that people fifty and older would consider hearing health to be of paramount importance--eighty percent do, but what is surprising is that the same adults that claim to care about their hearing health have a high level of untreated hearing loss. So what hearing health misconception keeps people from treating their hearing loss?

The AARP and ASHA analysis of the 2010 National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey (NHANES) showed despite respondents fifty and older claiming hearing health was important, about half had untreated hearing loss. It's been suggested that people prioritize aspects of health and because hearing health's relationship to total health is not fully understood treating hearing loss is further down the list. Many people remain unaware of the essential connection between their physical, social, and emotional health and their ability to hear. People assume that hearing is relegated to the ears and is separate from the whole of a person's life. This hearing health misconception might be dispelled if people became aware of the serious mental and physical impacts of untreated hearing loss.

Hearing Health Misconception Dispelled

Falls--A recent study conducted by Johns Hopkins and funded by the National Institute on Health found that untreated hearing loss led to a 3x greater likelihood of falls and that this likelihood continued to increase with every 10 db rise in hearing loss. 2,017 people age 40 to 69 participated in the study conducted by Johns Hopkins and Funded by the National Institute of Health demonstrated this relationship between hearing loss and falling. The study results confirmed that even people with mild hearing loss were three times more likely to report a history of falling down. Many people with untreated hearing loss are not aware of this vital connection. This lack of awareness tends to feed the hearing health misconception when, in fact, treating hearing benefits some of the areas thought to cause falls. Hearing aids have been shown to help with cognitive overload, increasing attention and brain functions. Today's hearing aids also incorporate spatial and locational technologies to give wearers the same organic awareness of environment as natural hearing, and also have the ability to eliminate background noise. Read more: HERE and HERE

“Our results suggest that over time, this change in stimulation to the brain may affect the health of auditory regions of the brain, and the level of brain activation in the brain when listening to speech.” Jonathan Peelle

Brain Atrophy--Sensory input form your ears helps to keep your brain younger and functioning better. Recent studies confirm there is a startling connection between hearing health and brain function. The hearing health misconception that the ears are separate from the rest of the body is fundamentally flawed. The ears and what a person hears is tied directly to brain function. Recent research suggests that hearing aids can help to improve memory and even help prevent brain atrophy and dementia. A study conducted by Jonathan Peelle and funded by the National Institute on Hearing, showed that hearing loss and the resulting lack of stimulation tended to cause reduction in gray matter. This report indicates preserving hearing may be as important as correcting hearing loss in keeping the brain healthy. Read more about this study and the results HERE and HERE

Hearing loss can create a psychological solitary confinement. Dr. Claudia Dewane, DEd, LCSW.

Social Connections--Hearing loss creates obstacles between the outside word and an individual. The hearing health misconception that hearing is not essential for good health, means that instead of treating hearing loss, many times a person will depend on a family member to repeat or relate what has been said. This dependence results in the first obstacle a person with hearing loss has put between themselves and understanding the outside world. These obstacles are a threat to an individual's wellbeing and should disprove the hearing health misconception that hearing loss does not impact anything but the ears. As time goes on, asking a family member to relate what is being said begins to wear on an individual with hearing loss causing them to withdraw rather than repeatedly request this interpretation. In addition, Dr. Claudia Dewane tells us in her article, Hearing Loss in Older Adults, "Hearing loss and the difficulties with everyday communication plays a role in how older adults experience and react to environmental stressors. " Read more about the social affects of hearing loss, HERE.

Emotional--People who treat their hearing loss report that they are happier and less depressed since they began to wear hearing aids. A global initiative sponsored by Phonak called Hear the World reported as much in their study of 4,300 people in the US, Germany, France, Switzerland, and Great Britain. The study--also reported on by the Better Hearing Institute, showed that people who did not correct hearing loss with a hearing aid felt more depressed, insecure, and anxious. Whereas people with hearing aids, 83% said the quality of life had improved with hearing aids. The majority of respondents also said that getting a hearing aid was worth the investment. The misconception around treating hearing loss keeps people from taking seriously the many consequences of not treating hearing loss. One of the reasons people with untreated hearing loss face greater depression is because they do not have the same ability to interact with family and the outside world. This "cut-off" feeling increases anxiety and internal strife.

Treating hearing loss has been shown to improve mental and physical health and is also known to increase wealth--untreated hearing loss creates barriers to communication and lessens compensation. The hearing health misconception that hearing is relegated to the ears and does not impact the entire social, emotional, and physical wellbeing of a person needs to be dispelled. Knowing the complete picture of not treating hearing loss it is hard to believe that people would not make treating hearing loss a top priority in their health regime. Treating hearing loss is one of the most important things a person can do to maintain their health as they age and improve their overall wellbeing and quality of life. If you have forgotten to take care of this important health concern, call your hearing health professional today and help ensure you have a happier, healthier tomorrow.

If you'd like to learn more about hearing loss, hearing heath, and hearing aids click HERE to DOWNLOAD our free guide to hearing health!

This guide will teach you:
▪ The 3 different types of hearing loss
▪ How to help a loved one hear you
▪ 8 different hearing aid styles
▪ Advances in digital and wireless hearing aid technology.


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