Each person with hearing loss can tell you a different story about what they have experienced. Some people develop hearing loss at a young age, but most lose hearing ability later in life. Some people lose the ability to hear low-frequency bass tones, but it is much more common to lose hearing in the higher-frequency range. Perhaps the most common story of hearing loss is losing the ability to carry on conversations with ease. Whereas it used to be easy to talk with others, hearing loss can make a conversation feel like a confusing puzzle. These common experiences can help us develop a better understanding of hearing loss. Although there are exceptions, these generalities come up against some commonly held myths about hearing loss. Taking them one by one, we can learn the truth about hearing loss. If you are hearing some of this mythology from your friends or loved ones, why not open up a conversation about what you learn?
Myth #1: Hearing loss isn’t a big deal.
It’s true that hearing loss is quite common, particularly as we get older. If the condition is so common, then what’s the big deal? Hearing loss, in itself, causes difficulty in communication and relationships, but it can lead to other much larger problems. For instance, hearing loss is related to higher rates of dementia. Experts have found that the problems of communication and understanding that come with hearing loss actually transform the brain. Those transformations can make people much more likely to develop cognitive dysfunction in other areas, including dementia. With such serious physical, mental, and cognitive consequences of hearing loss, it’s hard to claim that it’s not a big deal.
Myth #2: Hearing aids don’t work very well.
This myth originated in earlier times when hearing aid technology had not developed to the level of sophistication they have today. When hearing aids were invented, they used an analog process to simply raise the volume on the world. That louder sound amplified not only the sounds that interest us, such as voices in a conversation, but they also amplified background noise and other competing sounds. Some people found that sound to be very difficult to understand. Today’s hearing aids use Digital Signal Processors (DSPs) to not only raise the volume on the world but also to transform that sound into something more easily understood. When we hear a conversation, for instance, the latest hearing aids can reduce the sound of background noise relative to voices and also emphasize the voice of a speaker standing in front of a listener. Hearing aids work better than ever!
Myth #3: Hearing loss is permanent, so there’s nothing you can do about it.
The first half of this myth is rooted in truth. The majority of cases of hearing loss are indeed permanent within the structure of the inner ear. The tiny hairlike organelles of the inner ear called stereocilia are not able to repair or regrow themselves. However, there is certainly something to be done about hearing loss! As we know, hearing aid technology has advanced greatly in recent years. The hearing aids that are now on the market will not repair the structure of the inner ear, but they can transform sound in ways that make it easier to communicate and interface with the world. Not only do they enhance the experience of sound in the world, including music, nature, and other pleasurable sounds, but they improve relationship through easier communication. With these benefits in mind, there is a lot you can do about hearing loss indeed. If you are interested in pursuing treatment for hearing loss, why not start the process with a hearing test? This diagnostic exam is a tool that we use to determine which assistance is right for you. Just as no experience of hearing loss is the same as another, we will use this individualized assessment to find the right hearing aids to match your needs. If you have a loved one who could benefit from this treatment, the time is now to have a conversation about these commonly held myths. The truth of the matter is that hearing aids help many people improve their hearing, wellbeing, and quality of life.