Have you thought about your hearing lately? Perhaps it isn’t as sharp as it once was and you find yourself turning the TV up louder, or using captions to understand every word, or asking people to repeat themselves. Sound familiar to you or about someone you love?
Hearing is magical if you think about it. Sound waves enter the ear canal and move towards the eardrum. Vibrations caused by the sound waves on the eardrum cause the bones in the middle ear to vibrate. Tiny sensory hair cells capture the vibrations and transform them into electrical signals. The auditory nerve carries the electrical signals to the brain where we understand it as sounds. Pretty amazing! But, over time, those tiny hair cells can be damaged or diminished. The result – loss of sounds, especially higher frequencies like a child’s voice or the chirping of birds. This loss can impact your understanding of speech as well.
Presbycusis, or age-related hearing loss, is somewhat inevitable for most of us. Hearing difficulty causes your brain to work harder, and it can be exhausting, especially in keeping up with multiple conversations in a crowded room or restaurant. It’s no surprise that some people with hearing loss withdraw from these circumstances leading to anxiety, frustration, social isolation, even depression.
But, you ask, is there a solution? In a word, yes and it starts with a visit to a licensed hearing care professional for an evaluation of your hearing. And because hearing loss is usually gradual over time, this should become a part of your annual checkup checklist, like your visit to your physician, dentist, eye doctor or other annual medical visits.
When you visit a licensed hearing care professional, you will have your hearing tested and be provided with an audiogram revealing the nature of your unique hearing. You could have normal hearing, or have a mild-to moderate hearing loss, or perhaps a severe hearing loss or greater. Years of research by our organization has shown that most people under-estimate their hearing difficulty. If you are diagnosed with a hearing loss, you will find that there are numerous options at a variety of price points. And you may find that your insurance will cover some of the cost. Medicare Advantage Plans almost always include some hearing coverage while traditional Medicare does not.
If you are thinking about your hearing health and not ready for a visit to a hearing care professional just yet, take a minute to answer these ten questions and look for your score. The answer might surprise you.