Who Suffers from Hearing Loss?
In a recent BBC article, it was discovered that ten million people in the UK (one-sixth of the UK’s population) suffer from some form of hearing loss. More than 40% of people over 50 and 70% of over 70 year olds suffer from some form of hearing loss, providing strong evidence that hearing capability declines with age. However, old age isn’t the only cause of hearing loss, it can be caused by multiple factors, such as noise exposure, ear disease or because of hereditary influences.
Why Don’t People Treat Hearing Loss?
Most people that live with hearing troubles don’t realise they have hearing problems until the difficulty is significantly severe. On average, Brits wait 10 years before they seek treatment concerning their hearing problems, and during this time, it’s likely that the condition of the hearing difficulty will have considerably deteriorated. It is thought that less than half of the people who require hearing aids have them, possibly because they are frightened of visiting an audiologist, or because they haven’t noticed the gradual worsening of their hearing loss.
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Although hearing aids are advanced as ever, and more discreet than they used to be, it appears that people are still reluctant to wear hearing aids. However, as well as effects such as fatigue and stress, there is mounting evidence to suggest that untreated hearing loss can substantially increase the risk of developing dementia.
Hearing Loss and Fatigue
One of the most common repercussions of living with hearing loss is fatigue. When living with hearing loss, it is the brain’s responsibility to fill in the blanks and process what has been said so that you can best understand the conversation. However, this requires considerably more effort than someone who is living with healthy hearing, inevitably increasing the chances of you becoming tired. The best way to avoid fatigue related to hearing loss is to make sure you are wearing a suitable hearing aid, one that is programmed to assist with your individual requirements. This should hopefully enable your ability to recognise more sounds, preventing the brain from having to fill in as many gaps and working as hard.
Hearing Loss Associated with Cognitive Decline and Dementia
In the past few years, there has been substantial research into the relation of hearing loss and dementia. It is believed that the longer you live with untreated hearing difficulties, the higher the possibility that your cognitive skills will decline, as well as an increased chance of developing Alzheimer’s disease or other dementia conditions. Studies have suggested that living with restricted levels of hearing can cause the brain to overcompensate and put too much effort into trying to hear, causing a decline in cognitive skills, and the longer the brain has to overcompensate, the more likely it is that dementia will develop. However, by treating the hearing difficulties at an early stage, you can reduce the chances of developing these serious conditions.
Hearing Loss and Social Isolation
Social isolation is a common consequence of leaving hearing loss untreated. For some people, they feel embarrassed that they can’t always understand the conversation, and for others they feel it is too much effort to try and follow the speech of their peers. This can cause the person with hearing difficulties to refuse to socialise with friends and family, and instead distance themselves from others, rarely leaving their own home.
It’s also not uncommon for people to feel ashamed of their hearing problems due to people getting angry and annoyed when they have to repeat themselves numerous times. Not only can this make the person feel unwelcome, but it can also lead to more serious conditions developing, such as depression and anxiety.
How to Improve Hearing in Social Situations
Wearing a suitable hearing aid is the most beneficial measure to improve hearing in social situations. However, it is paramount that a suitable aid is worn. It must be the correct size and fitting, and it is crucial that it is it has been programmed and customised to suit the requirements of the user. Hearing aids aren’t generic nor one size fits all, they are bespoke and made to meet the needs of their particular user. If you think you are having difficulty with your hearing, book a free consultation today with one of Hearing Solutions UK’s audiologists.
Although they aren’t as effective, there are other tips that may help with hearing in social situations. For example, making sure the room is well-lit so that you can see the movements of the speaker’s mouth while speaking, and asking people not to cover their mouth whilst speaking. Being able to see the movements of the speaker’s mouth is thought to help people understand what is being said. Another idea, especially when in large groups, is to position yourself in the middle of the party so that you give yourself the best opportunity of being able to hear what everyone is saying.
If you are experiencing any of the above effects, or feel that your hearing is declining, get in touch with a member of our team today. We’re here to provide expert advice, and support you in finding a solution to your hearing loss.
See more: Can I Wear Second-hand Hearing Aids?