Busting Those Hearing Health Myths

Everything is bigger in Texas…including hearing health myths. There are a lot of misconceptions about hearing loss and hearing aids; considering one out of five people in El Paso experiences hearing impairment to a certain degree, it’s high time we helped straighten out the truth when it comes to your hearing.

Misconceptions About Hearing Loss

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Fact: hearing loss affects 48 million Americans. This makes it the third most common chronic physical condition in the U.S., behind arthritis and heart disease. About one out of every five individuals suffers from hearing loss.

Not a fact: these common misperceptions about hearing loss and hearing aids.

  • Hearing loss only affects older adults. 

    While it’s true that hearing naturally declines with age, not everybody with hearing loss is a senior citizen—and younger people aren’t automatically immune. Only one-third of individuals with impaired hearing are 65 or older. Hearing loss affects people of all ages, including children and young adults. Age is just one of many possible factors; noise, disease, trauma and certain medications can all damage the sensory cells in the inner ear, leading to permanent hearing loss.

  • Hearing loss is annoying but harmless.

    Yes, hearing loss is a nuisance—but it also has real health consequences. Left untreated, it can lead to a variety of physical, social and psychological health effects. Hearing loss patients are more at risk of isolation, loneliness, depression, dementia, diabetes, kidney disease and falls. Their overall odds of being hospitalized and dying early are higher, and their bank accounts are smaller—workers with hearing loss earn$12,000 less on average than their coworkers with normal hearing.

  • Hearing loss can’t be avoided.

    In a few cases, there isn’t much you can do to stop hearing loss; hair cells in the cochlea do experience some damage over the years. But this is the result of cumulative noise exposure, and that’s something you can prevent. Your El Paso audiologist recommends wearing hearing protection any time you are participating in noisy activities; these include concerts, sporting events, riding motorcycles, using power tools and more. Keep the volume level at no more than 60 percent of maximum when listening to music through earbuds or headphones and take frequent breaks to give your ears a rest. Make regular hearing exams a part of your medical routine.

  • Hearing loss will improve without treatment.

    Many people tell themselves their hearing will get better and the problem is temporary when they first notice signs of diminished hearing, but that is hardly ever the case. Hearing loss is a progressive disease that only worsens over time; once the hair cells in the inner ear are damaged, they do not grow back and there is no medical solution to reverse hearing loss. Fortunately, the majority of patients with impaired hearing will benefit from wearing hearing aids.

  • Hearing aids are ineffective.

    Hearing aids have improved significantly over the years thanks to advances in technology. While ear trumpets in the 18th century did little more than funnel sounds into the ear canals, today’s devices rely on digital technology, micro-processors and Bluetooth® connectivity to greatly improve your ability to hear and communicate with others in most listening situations. Just ask those who use them regularly; hearing aid satisfaction surveys show that more than nine out of 10 users are happy with their devices.

If you have symptoms of hearing loss, schedule an appointment with an audiologist.

Of course, hearing loss isn’t just confined to Texas; it’s a global health epidemic and numbers are on the rise worldwide. Separating myth from reality and learning that there are ways to protect your hearing and treat your impairment will go a long way toward reversing the trend. Talk to your El Paso audiologist for more information.

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