Managing Hearing Loss
Hearing loss impacts on people’s lives very differently and it is worth considering any activity limitations or participation restrictions that your hearing loss has imposed upon you as well as how it may affect you emotionally or impacts on relationships.
The audiologist will be interested to discuss these issues with you in order to best manage your hearing loss. It may be that different settings on your hearing aid could be appropriate, a different hearing aid could be considered or additional equipment may be recommended. It is important to us at Chime that we are helping you as an individual as best we can so please include anything that you feel relevant when discussing your hearing needs with us.
Hearing loss impact
Hearing loss can have a large impact on general health and wellbeing even when the hearing impairment is fairly mild.
Most people initially notice that hearing when in background noise becomes difficult. This can lead to an avoidance of places where there is background noise preventing people from attending meetings, clubs, social events and sometimes restricting their participation in things they enjoy. This gradual social withdrawal can lead to depression and a general ‘slowing down’ as more time is spent at home. This general slowing down may lead to a decline in physical health as less time is spent going out and moving around. Spending less time around other people can lead to a loss in confidence and affect mental and emotional wellbeing giving rise to a poorer quality of life. Feelings of isolation and depression are common in the older population and the above problems will only serve to worsen this. Several studies appear to show a significant correlation between hearing impairment and cognitive decline with a beneficial slowing of cognitive decline in those fitted appropriately with hearing aids. There also appears to be a significantly higher incidence of falls among those with untreated hearing loss.
Hearing loss is also shown to affect relationships and have an impact on those close to the individual with the hearing impairment. Both hearing impaired people and their significant others report benefits from hearing aid use in terms of better relationships at home, more confidence, and better relationships with others. Family members actually report such benefits more often than the hearing impaired people themselves demonstrating that those affected are not always aware of how much they are missing out on.
Hearing loss is an often underestimated problem. It has been shown to negatively affect physical, cognitive, behavioural and social functions, as well as general quality of life and daily life is far more affected than most people would anticipate.
Benefits of good hearing
There are obvious benefits to having good hearing, as it allows individuals to communicate effectively, stay socially active and manage their overall well-being.
Undiagnosed or untreated hearing loss can have a negative impact physically, mentally and socially. Hearing loss is often a direct cause of social isolation, which can lead to illnesses such as depression. There is also research which has revealed leaving hearing loss untreated, can potentially increase the risk of dementia in later life.
Not only this, but evidence has revealed that people on average wait 10 years before seeking help for their hearing loss. So that’s why we encourage people to book a consultation sooner rather than later.
Gradual deterioration of hearing and warning signs
The charity Action on Hearing Loss believe almost ten million people in the UK are deaf or have hearing loss. There are a number of different reasons why someone might be deaf or lose their hearing, including:
- Prolonged and repeated exposure to loud noise
- Physical problems with the ear, such as a perforation of the eardrum
- A very common cause of hearing loss is simply due to ageing
More than 70% of over 70 year-olds and 40% of over 50 year-olds have some kind of hearing loss. But because age-related loss of hearing occurs very gradually, you may not realise it is happening to you.
If you experience any of the below situations, you could potentially be losing your hearing:
- You appear to mumble rather than speak clearly in conversation
- You often have to ask people to repeat themselves before you understand what they have said
- You have difficulties understanding conversation in noisy environments (e.g. restaurants and pubs, etc.) though others appear to manage
- You have difficulties keeping up in group conversations
- You are having to concentrate hard to understand conversations and may find listening tiring
- You have difficulties hearing conversation on the telephone
- People often tell you that your TV/music's too loud, but you struggle to hear it clearly at a lower volume
What can be done to help you have better hearing
If you believe you are experiencing difficulties with your hearing, you should:
- Talk to friends, family and colleagues so they can provide you with the help and support you need.
- Utilise effective communication tactics. This could include minimising background noise during conversations, ensuring people know to face you when speaking.
- Have your hearing checked. Often this will involve making an appointment to see your GP, who will decide if an onward NHS referral is necessary. If you prefer, you can go directly to a private hearing aid dispenser who will assess your hearing before deciding if you could benefit from hearing aids.
The solution to ensure you have better hearing is to look into getting a hearing aid. There are many benefits to wearing them and beginning as soon as possible:
- Hearing aids can improve quality of life significantly; they can provide access to sounds that you have been unable to hear for a long time and reduce exhaustion from increased listening effort in conversations and social situations.
- A delay in treatment means you are less likely to benefit from hearing aids, as leaving hearing loss untreated can cause your brain to become unaccustomed to receiving sound input. The longer this state persists, the harder it will become to get used to hearing again, and the less effective hearing aids may be in the end. A hearing aid therefore is most effective when fitted early.