For most of history, hearing loss came with a stigma. Hearing loss was associated with getting old, and hearing aids were crude devices that old people used to try to hear what little they could pick up. Nowadays, stars and important people like Bill Clinton, Herbie Hancock, Rob Lowe and Jodie Foster sport their state-of-the-art hearing aids at public events and talk openly about dealing with hearing loss. The stigma has more or less disappeared, and the rise of “hearables” has put what are effectively assistive listening devices in the ears of just about everyone. Far from indicating enfeeblement, hearing aids keep us in the conversation and allow us to live much the same as we did before hearing loss became an issue.
Today, let’s debunk a few of the common myths about hearing loss.
Hearing Loss Only Affects Old People
Actually, of the 48 million Americans affected by hearing loss, 40% are younger than 60. While hearing loss does tend to come on more steadily with age, many of the people dealing with it are younger than you would think.
I Shouldn’t Have Gone to Those Rock Concerts
Rock concerts definitely don’t improve hearing, but there are lots of factors that go into why a person develops hearing loss. Genes, the normal aging process, ototoxic medications and herbs, smoking, diabetes, and even a typical American diet can contribute to hearing loss. Researchers at the Stanford Initiative to Cure Hearing Loss (SICHL) say that even noise-induced hearing loss, the kind from those rock concerts, has a genetic element to how much it affects a person’s hearing ability. And a study at Brigham and Women’s Hospital found that those who kept to an anti-inflammatory diet—such as the Alternate Mediterranean Diet (AMED) or Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH)—had a significantly reduced risk of hearing loss over a four-year period than those who ate other fares.
If you enjoy music, you should go for it! But make sure to protect your ears with a good set of earplugs that can handle the decibel level of the concerts you’re attending!
I Could Understand Everyone If They’d Just Talk Louder
It’s easy to imagine that this is the case, but it’s probably not true. The louder people talk, the more they’re likely to distort the mechanical path that sound takes on its way to your ears, which will end up distorting what they’re saying anyway. Modern hearing aids are excellent at targeting just the frequencies you need to get a boost at, while minimizing background noise and emphasizing speech. Fitment is usually an ongoing process, but it’s likely that you’ll arrive at a program that works for you and actually makes speech more intelligible if you keep working with your hearing care provider.
I Know I Have Hearing Loss, But It’s Not That Bad Yet
Even mild hearing loss is known to cause problems in a person’s lifestyle, relationships, and memory retention. Additionally, changes start to take place in the brain that will make it more difficult to adjust to hearing aids later on. It’s common for people to actually “forget” how to hear speech, which is why many hearing care providers offer training courses for those new to hearing aids. Don’t worry: if you’ve been needing hearing aids for some time, you can still “relearn” to hear speech, but it’s easier to adjust to hearing aids if you never forgot in the first place!
The best time to get hearing aids is when a hearing care professional recommends them. If you’re noticing any hearing trouble, make an appointment for a hearing test and find out if you’re a good candidate for hearing aids.
Hearing Aids Don’t Make a Big Difference
On the contrary! 95% of people who get hearing aids say they’re satisfied with them, when asked after one year. Studies have found that those who get hearing aids report improvement in social relationships and at work, and even make more money than those with untreated hearing loss. People with hearing aids tend to feel better about themselves and more confident than those who don’t treat their hearing loss, and they even report a greater sense of optimism about their lives and the world in general. Hearing aids make a whole world of difference!
If you or a loved one might be in need of hearing aids, make an appointment for a hearing test today and find out what they can do for you!