For the last year and a half I have lived with increased ringing in my ears (tinnitus). I first noticed it after flying and thought it would rectify itself, but time went on and it didn’t get better but grew worse. I still didn’t go to the doctor and get it checked. You know how it is, we’re always ripping and tearing about putting ourselves last much of the time.
Over the course of the last several months, I started noticing I couldn’t hear as well either. I first noticed it with the television. I kept asking my husband if he could hear it and when he said yes, I would ask him to turn it up anyway because I couldn’t. When I was driving my grandchildren around, I couldn’t hear my granddaughter in the back, but she does have a little voice so I just attributed it to that. And many times I had to ask people to repeat something that was said. I’m sure my husband became tired of my asking him!
I knew I needed to have my hearing checked and finally scheduled an appointment with an Ear Nose and Throat specialist. As I was sitting in the waiting room, I began to read an article that stated hearing loss was linked to an increased risk of dementia. When I read that, an alarm went off and I wondered “is this really factual?”
During my appointment, my hearing was checked by an audiologist and I then met with the doctor. And yes, as I suspected I had hearing loss that was substantial enough that hearing aids were recommended… in both ears. My loss was almost identical in each ear. After reading about the correlation with hearing loss and dementia, I didn’t hesitate at all to schedule an appointment to follow-up with the audiologist and talk about hearing aids.
I did want to verify what I had read though, so when I got home I did an online search, only looking at reputable sources. The correlation was verified.
These are the sources I looked at:
- Johns Hopkins Medicine – “Hearing Loss Linked to Accelerated Brain Tissue Loss“
- WebMD – “Hearing Loss May be Linked to Alzheimer’s“
- AARP – “Hearing Loss Linked to Dementia“
- National Institute of Health – “Hearing Loss and Dementia – Who’s Listening?“
- Medscape – “How Does Hearing Loss Affect the Brain?“
That settled it for me. Before I went to my ENT appointment I had stated that if hearing aids were too expensive, I wasn’t going to get them, but I’m not saying that now. My brain tissue is too valuable to me and I want to lose as little as possible!Hearing loss can have a much greater consequence than you might think. If you suspect you may have hearing loss, get checked! Click To Tweet
When we think of hearing aids, we usually think of “older” people, right? It was a little hard to swallow at first, after all I’m not actually old am I at 61? Not at all, unless you ask my grandchildren!
My reason for writing this is to encourage you to have your hearing checked if you feel you might have some hearing loss. It is the third most common health problem in the U.S., and it’s on the rise. When our hearing goes it starts to affect the quality of our life and relationships. It has been found to cause:
- Social isolation – pulling away from social activities is common with the hearing impaired due to the difficulty of hearing or understanding what’s being said.
- Stress, anxiety and frustration – Attending social activities, such as church or dining out becomes stressful rather than enjoyable and in time, not worth the effort to go.
- Relationships – hearing loss takes its toll on relationships, in part because of the hearing impaired declining social functions that were once enjoyed together and in part because family or friends become so frustrated at the difficulty in trying to communicate that they often don’t try.
- Depression – often occurs as a result of the above mentioned things.
- Paranoia, emotional turmoil and insecurity (per the National Council on Aging)
- Falls – those with hearing loss experience an increased number of falls.
- Dementia – hearing loss has been shown to increase atrophy of the brain causing cognitive decline.
I am now the proud owner of hearing aids, but because of the length of my hair no one even knows they’re there.
The National Institute of Health (NIH) offers these questions to ask yourself to determine if you might have hearing loss:
- Do you have a problem hearing over the telephone?
- Do you have trouble following the conversation when two or more people are talking at the same time?
- Do people complain that you turn the TV volume up too high?
- Do you have to strain to understand conversation?
- Do you have trouble hearing in a noisy background?
- Do you find yourself asking people to repeat themselves?
- Do many people you talk to seem to mumble or not speak clearly?
- Do you misunderstand what others are saying and respond inappropriately?
- Do you have trouble understanding the speech of women and children?
- Do people get annoyed because you misunderstand what they say?
- Do you hear a ringing, roaring, or hissing sound a lot?
As you read through the questions, answer them honestly. If you answer “yes” to three or more you should have your hearing checked by a doctor.
Hearing aids can be expensive. Sometimes your health insurance will pay some of the cost, but not always. If you find that you need them talk to your audiologist about payment options.
I was lucky and my health insurance paid a portion. The rest however, I’m making payments on, but I think my brain is worth it!
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