There are many misconceptions about hearing loss. Here are some facts you may not know:
- Hearing loss affects people of all ages. Almost 2/3 of individuals with hearing loss are under the age of 65. Age-related hearing changes, as well as noise induced hearing loss, affect people young and old.
- Not everybody is aware of hearing loss. Hearing loss often develops slowly, and worsens gradually with time. Many people adapt to limited hearing without even realizing it. In fact, studies show it takes patients 7-10 years on average from the time symptoms first appear until they receive treatment.
- Hearing devices won’t cure hearing loss. Unlike vision, hearing cannot be restored to “normal” limits. This is because permanent hearing loss is typically caused by damage to the cells in the inner ear. Once these cells disappear, the ear cannot tune sound as finely as it used to. While hearing aids can’t restore damaged hearing, they do help you hear better by amplifying sounds. Approximately 95% of those with hearing loss are helped by hearing aids.
- Two hearing devices are better than one. Some people believe wearing a single hearing device is sufficient. However, the human brain filters sound using two ears. Without the input from two ears, determining where sound is coming from (localizing) is impossible. The brain uses these directional cues to help you focus on what you want to hear. Just as you lack depth perception if you use only one eye, you lack localization ability if you use only one ear. Communicating in adverse listening environments will be improved with two devices.
- Hearing aids are not complicated to use. They may be sophisticated devices, but today’s hearing aids are pretty easy to use. They are programmed and measured to your individual hearing preferences and lifestyle, and many adjust automatically to different listening environments. Bluetooth technology has led to wireless compatibility with a variety of communication devices, making them easier to control and providing more options.
- Technological improvements have eliminated a lot of the problems associated with older devices. The whistling sound that plagued many users with older analog hearing aids is no longer an issue. And if you’re worried that hearing aids will amplify everything, today’s devices are sophisticated enough to separate speech from background noise. Because they are programmed for your unique hearing loss, they target the frequencies you have trouble understanding, and will automatically adjust volume levels accordingly.
- Hearing devices do not make you look older. The inability to understand what another person is saying, and having that person frequently repeat what he or she is saying, is more apt to make you appear older. In fact, with many of the advances in hearing device design, many are very hard to see or practically invisible.