Life Begins At » Hearing loss is common
Health Hearing Uncategorised

Hearing loss is common

Hearing loss is common.  The World Health Organisation estimates that by 2050 over 900 million people – or one in every ten people – will have disabling hearing loss.  

Many more than that will have hearing difficulties, where they “get by” but can’t really hear well.  In Australia about one in six people have hearing loss that is bad enough to negatively impact their lives.  Research has shown that getting hearing loss as an adult puts us at higher risk of depression, loneliness and even cognitive decline.  Some of the reasons for this are very clear. If you are finding it a bit harder to hear, you stop going to places where it’s hard to hear.  This might include cafes and restaurants, and other places where you have gone to meet friends and family. It gets easier to withdraw, and this can lead to isolation and depression.  Researchers have shown that even when hearing difficulties are quite mild the loss of quality of life can be quite high. Researchers have also shown that using hearing aids help improve that quality of life, and one research group has demonstrated that this improvement includes social, emotional, and communication abilities. These researchers also saw improvements in cognition.

In Australia one in six people have some degree of hearing difficulty, but despite the negative consequences of not getting hearing aids, only about one in five of those who need hearing aids actually get them.  Why is this? The reasons are myriad. Perhaps at the forefront is the simple denial of the problem. “I don’t have hearing loss, other people mumble” Is a common excuse. Sometimes people are accused of selective hearing.  The person with selective hearing or listening will often have mild hearing difficulties that are just bad enough to make hearing and listening more effort, and after a time they lose concentration and stop trying so hard. Some people thinks it makes them look old to use hearing aids.  It potentially makes you look older to not use hearing aids.   Some people are put off by the price, and by confusion about how much to pay, and whether the hearing aids are good value.  In Australia and the USA, the practice of bundling hearing aid and support service pricing has triggered suspicion that hearing aid delivery costs are inflated.  Hearing aids are not simple amplifiers. They pick up and process sounds in a manner that helps a damaged hearing system detect complex sounds. Generally, from any one supplier, the most expensive hearing aids in their range are the best.  However, they may be the most expensive, but have features that you don’t want or need. Different companies charge very different prices for similar quality hearing aids, so ask around.

I get asked if it’s okay to buy off the internet.  The answer is “It depends”. If you buy off the internet you need a hearing aid that is supplied with software, or an App, to tune it.  Also make sure that the company supplies personal follow up support. Buying hearing aids from overseas can be problematic because there might not be anyone to help you.  Otherwise buying off the internet directly from a hearing aid company can save the retailers mark up. The most important thing when you get your hearing aids is to use them as much as possible.  Getting sound to the brain is hearing fitness for the brain. It helps keep the hearing nerves and the hearing part of the brain healthy.  It also helps turn you into a hearing expert. Sometimes people take some time to get used to the new sounds. You need to practice hearing and listening with the new hearing aids as much as possible.  You wouldn’t run a marathon without training. To hear better in a noisy place, you need to practice in ordinary situations. Don’t forget to watch people faces too. By six months old you are a practiced lip reader.    

About the author

Dr Elaine Saunders

1 Comment

Click here to post a comment

  • […] Want to read some more? – Hearing loss is common […]