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Truth or Myth

Myth: Hearing loss affects only older adults.

Hearing loss does not discriminate. About two-thirds of all hearing loss is in people under 65 years of age.5 Even more alarming is that today 1 in 5 teenagers (ages 12 – 19) have hearing loss in one or both ears from listening to music too loud, illness, medications or genetics. The World Health Organization has warned that 1.1 billion teenagers and young adults are at risk of hearing loss “due to the unsafe use of personal audio devices, including smartphones, and exposure to damaging levels of sound at noisy entertainment venues such as nightclubs, bars, and sporting events.”6

Myth: Hearing aids are like eyeglasses.

Hearing and vision are both major senses that connect us to the world. Hearing aids and eyeglasses are frequently compared as assistive devices; however, the two can hardly be compared. Eyeglasses are a mechanism to immediately assist the eye to focus and do not require vision training to wear them. Hearing aids are responsible for helping the brain perceive pitch, duration, loudness, timbre, sonic texture and spatial location of sounds. Sounds can tell us where things are, if something is moving, how far or near an object may be, and more. Sound waves travel through a medium, such as air or water, and are captured by our ears and perceived by our brain as a sound. Sound also gives us the ability to communicate and understand spoken language. With hearing aids, the brain needs time to adjust to the sound coming through the hearing instrument. Because of each individual’s unique ability to hear various frequencies, hearing aids need to be programmed to a patient’s hearing ability. Fine-tuning may take several trips to the audiologist or hearing healthcare professional. Even the most advanced hearing aids will not restore hearing 100 percent and individuals may need auditory training to help the brain process sounds.3

Truth: Hearing health is overall health.

Hearing occurs in the brain. The pathway to signal transmission and comprehension is quite complex. Hearing loss due to injury, illness, excessive sound, and aging affects our brain health and puts us at increased risk of cognitive decline. It also affects our physical health with an increased  risk of falls and our mental health with an increased risk of depression and social isolation.  Hearing loss is connected to diabetes and heart disease.

Myth: Hearing loss is only in my ears.

Untreated hearing loss increases risk of cognitive decline, dementia, falls, social isolation, and depression. It’s theorized that the “cognitive load” on the brain may take away resources the brain uses for other functions, such as short-term memory, and affects our ability of spatial awareness. Researchers cite treating hearing loss with hearing aids can alleviate symptoms of these conditions.2

Myth: I don’t need hearing aids. My hearing is mostly fine.

When you have a hearing loss in some frequencies and not others, it is easier to dismiss it as unimportant. However, even a mild hearing loss can adversely affect your cognitive capabilities, work, home, and social life. Fortunately, the brain’s neuroplasticity means that treating hearing loss allows the brain to relearn how to hear. Proper hearing aid use correlates with improved outlook, mood, mobility, independence, communication, and social interaction.

Myth: I don’t need hearing aids. My hearing is mostly fine.