Many people take yearly trips to their family physician to check blood work or make appointments with their eye doctor to update prescriptions for their glasses. But, when was the last time you had your hearing checked? For school children, annual hearing screenings are a fact of life. After all, hearing plays an important role in speech development and education. But in adulthood, we rarely think to have our hearing tested.
Unfortunately, hearing loss is more common than we would like to think. About 20 percent of Americans report some degree of hearing loss. For those 65 and older, one out of three report some degree of hearing loss.
Living with hearing loss can lead to confusion, frustration and isolation. When it’s hard to understand what people are saying, it’s easier to stay home than to go out with a group or attend family events. But now researchers are showing there might be other health concerns associated with hearing loss. New studies have found a link between hearing loss and dementia. Scientists have found that an individuals odds for mental decline go up anywhere from 2-5 percent if they suffer from hearing loss. While the research does not mean that loss of hearing guarantees you will have cognitive problems, the link is significant enough that it is garnering further research.
Why the two are linked is still a mystery. Scientists have a variety of theories, including hearing loss’ effects on the brain’s structure in a way that contributes to cognitive problems. Hearing loss often leads to social isolation, which in turn can lead to cognitive decline.
It is still to be determined whether improving a person’s hearing through hearing aids or other assistance can stave off dementia, but the link itself proves to be reason enough to have your hearing checked.
You might be suffering from hearing loss if any of these signs or medical conditions relate to you:
– Have a family history of hearing loss
– Have been exposed to very loud sounds over a long period of time, or a single exposure to an explosive noise.
– Require frequent repetition
– Have difficulty hearing in crowded situations, such as malls or restaurants
– Have the TV turned up to a loud volume
– Have ringing in your ears
– Have diabetes, heart or circulation problems
If any of these signs rings true to you, it might be time for a hearing evaluation. Here at Piedmont Ear, Nose & Throat Associates, we have a talented, experienced team of physicians and audiologists who can perform comprehensive evaluations and make recommendations for the appropriate next steps if any signs of hearing loss are found. The earlier you determine you have hearing loss and take steps to remedy the situation, the better quality of life you will experience.
Questions? Contact us, or call (336) 768-3361 today to schedule your appointment.