It’s Your Choice: Don’t Wait to Treat Your Hearing Loss

Hearing loss continues to affect a growing, and increasingly younger, portion of the population. And many individuals who experience hearing loss, choose not to act on it. If you think hearing loss isn’t that big of a deal, or that you can get along just fine without getting your hearing loss treated, you’re mistaken. Hearing loss affects all aspects of your life, from your own health and happiness to your relationships with those most important to you.

Deciding About Hearing Loss

If you’ve been hesitating to get your hearing tested, you’re not alone. The average person waits nearly seven years from when they first notice their own hearing loss until they seek help for it. That means seven years of straining to understand others, missing out on the sounds you love, and risking the onset of other health issues linked to untreated hearing loss.

But you don’t have to live with hearing loss. You have a choice: continue to struggle each day with your hearing challenges, or take the steps toward better hearing — like Harvey Patterson, one of the individuals featured in Signia’s It’s Your Choice video series.

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Admitting hearing loss is a problem

Harvey Patterson is someone who made the choice to take care of his hearing loss. Harvey works as a machine tools designer and is a NASCAR pit mechanic in his free time, meaning he’s long been exposed to loud sounds. Over the years, the excessive noise has cost him 60 percent of the hearing in both ears. As a result, he often had to guess what others were saying. Although he told himself his diminished hearing wasn’t an issue, one emotional moment made him realize how much of a problem it had become.

According to Harvey, “I noticed I was having hearing problems when my grandson came home and said, ‘Don’t you love me anymore? We had a cross country meet that I asked you to come to [but] you didn’t come.’ That’s when I knew I had to do something.”

Not treating hearing loss damages personal relationships

As demonstrated by Harvey’s experience, hearing loss rarely only affects the person with diminished hearing. It can be frustrating for your family who may struggle to communicate with you. They might become annoyed by having to repeat everything so you can understand. And you probably get into arguments about the TV being too loud. While such irritants may seem minor, they can build up over the years and fracture relationships with the important people in your life.

Another risk of ignoring hearing loss is that you may grow tired of feeling out of the loop whenever you’re around your family and friends. You might have less of a desire to be near other people if you struggle to understand what they say. As a result, you might decide it’s better to stay home during social gatherings, and such isolation can lead to depression.

Hearing and your health

In addition to your psychological wellbeing, hearing loss can also impact your physical health. Since your ears play a crucial role in maintaining balance, hearing loss can diminish that ability and increase your risk of devastating falls. According to research from Johns Hopkins, even mild hearing loss has been linked to a three-fold risk of falling, and that risk increases with the severity of the hearing loss.

Hearing loss is also linked to the presence of cardiovascular disease, as diminished hearing can be an early sign of the condition. Cardiovascular disease often involves narrowing of your blood vessels, and the delicate hair cells (stereocilia) of your inner ear are often the first to suffer from the lack of adequate blood flow. By continuing to disregard your hearing loss, you could miss the opportunity to have a more serious health condition diagnosed early.

Poor hearing impacts your professional life

Hearing loss can be detrimental to your career—both in finding a job and achieving success in your current role. Going on an interview with untreated hearing loss can be difficult, since you might strain to understand your interviewer’s questions. This could lead to constantly ask them to repeat themselves, or make you appear unprepared for the interview or lacking in confidence. The same holds true if you already have a job. You could miss important directions from your boss or vital details shared during phone calls and meetings.

People with hearing loss experience a higher level of unemployment than their peers with normal hearing. Hearing loss can also result in lower earnings, with one study suggesting people with hearing loss earn up to $30,000 less per year. If you’ve been avoiding getting hearing aids for fear that they’ll make you seem old and ruin your chances of getting ahead at your job, the opposite is more likely to be true — misunderstanding and miscommunication due to untreated hearing loss makes you seem over-the-hill and jeopardizes your career success.

It’s your choice

Whether it’s your personal relationships, health, or career, hearing loss can damage the most important parts of your life. As with any medical condition, treating hearing loss in its early stages is the best strategy. Putting it off may only do more damage, meaning you’ll miss out on more conversations and other sounds you once loved.

Harvey made the choice to do something about his hearing loss, which he found to be life-changing. So, what will you choose to do?