Each May, Better Hearing Month raises awareness about hearing difficulties and disorders, but this year with the COVID-19 pandemic we recognize the impact of hearing loss on those in isolation, and how communication and hearing care are essential in our increasingly virtual world.
Increased Isolation and Depression
Hearing loss causes many to feel isolated, lonely, and can lead to depression. Sadly, with at-home isolation and social distancing, these feelings may be experienced, and exacerbated, during the current COVID-19 pandemic.
While people are isolating in their homes, communication is largely through technology. But many people with untreated hearing loss have difficulty communicating over the phone or through online apps, and may be avoiding such contact, and increasing their feelings of isolation and depression.
Millions of Americans Have Hearing Loss
Large numbers of the population experience hearing loss; according to a 2016 study by the National Institutes of Health NIDCD, approximately 15 percent (37.5 million) of American adults aged 20 to 69, have some trouble with hearing, and approximately 28.8 million could benefit from the use of hearing aids.
Hearing Loss Affects Young and Old
As the baby boomer population ages, more Americans are facing hearing health challenges. But while age is still the greatest factor in hearing loss, many younger people also experience hearing problems due to exposure to loud music and noise – including occupational noise.
People who work in construction, landscaping, airport runway jobs, law enforcement, military, manufacturing, and other occupations where there is noise exposure, often experience some degree of hearing loss.
Know the Signs of Hearing Loss
Signs of hearing loss may include:
- Suddenly turning up the volume on the television, radio, or computer and having others complain that the volume is too loud.
- Difficulty understanding words, especially against background noise or in a crowd.
- Frequently asking others to speak more slowly, clearly, and loudly.
- Avoidance of some social settings.
- Watching people's lips instead of making eye contact.
- Ringing in the ears.
If you recognize these (or other) hearing loss symptoms in yourself or a loved one, take our free online Hearing Loss Self-Test to determine the extent that hearing loss is affecting your life, and the recommended actions to take (if any).
Consequences of Untreated Hearing Loss
Untreated hearing loss can have serious consequences. A decrease in hearing sensitivity is associated with diminished cognitive function, dementia/Alzheimer’s, poorer mental health including depression and anxiety, and social withdrawal.
Hearing Loss Treatments Beyond Hearing Aids
Hearing aids are not always the recommended solution, which is why it’s important to consult an audiologist (preferably a doctor of audiology) who can further determine the appropriate treatment.
Sometimes the cause of hearing loss is temporary (such as ear wax buildup), a symptom of another illness or disease, or a side-effect of medication, which require different solutions.
Why Wait Any Longer? Make an Appointment Today
If you’ve been putting off a visit to the audiologist to discuss your hearing loss, why wait any longer? Your procrastination could have permanent consequences and it’s important to schedule a free hearing screening and consultation* now to get your hearing tested in the upcoming months.
* Applicable to new patients 18 years of age or older.