"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

It's time to vary the best way we take into consideration hearing

January 24, 2024 – See, smell, touch, taste, hear. Which of those five senses are you most afraid of losing? In most cases, hearing comes last, although an estimated 60 million Americans have some type of hearing loss, including 44 million people ages 20 and older.

Only 16% of those aged 20 to 60 and 30% of those aged over 70 have ever used a hearing aid. Most people over 50 haven't had their hearing tested. Furthermore, it's current Survey results indicate that primary care physicians consider hearing loss to be probably the most essential health conditions to treat, and lower than 50% also recommend that their patients have their hearing tested no less than annually. Other research shows that the identical percentage imagine nothing might be done about it.

This perfect storm of widespread hearing loss, coupled with a scarcity of prioritization by providers, puts the onus on individuals to ask for preventative care. Often people should not aware that they've hearing loss, nor do they consider the long-term health consequences that could possibly be prevented or slowed with hearing interventions.

“Hearing has always been viewed as a binary phenomenon – either you have normal hearing or suddenly you have hearing loss and you have to do something about it,” said Frank Lin, MD, PhD, an otolaryngologist (ear, nose and throat specialist). and otolaryngologist) and director of the Cochlear Center for Hearing and Public Health on the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore. “If you were to actually check your hearing every year, you would find that it slowly and gradually decreases little by little, literally throughout your entire life, starting with puberty.”

It's time to vary the best way we take into consideration hearing, he said.

Disconnected connections, interrupted stimulation

Hearing relies on the flexibility of the inner ear—specifically the fluid-filled cavity (cochlea)—to convert sound waves into electrical signals that the brain can interpret. Over time, the cochlea becomes damaged from a lifetime of noise exposure. Other aspects that affect hearing include your genes, certain prescription medications, and medical conditions corresponding to hypertension and diabetes.

“Most people who notice hearing loss will notice it when they are in background noise, as the listening environment tends to be more demanding,” said Bria Collins AuD, CCC-A, associate director of the audiology practice on the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) in Rockville, MD. “But it almost always happens that you don’t hear the speech signal reliably.”

Hearing loss is simply a part of the equation. Health risks are one other.

“Hearing loss is consistently associated with the risk of cognitive decline or dementia over time,” Lin said. He explained that it is feasible that cochlear damage makes the brain harder to decipher electrical signals, which, he said, “comes at the expense of our ability to think.” He noted that one other theory is that “hearing loss itself alters the structural integrity of the brain, leading to faster rates of atrophy.” [when the brain loses brain cells and neurons], which just isn't good for brain function.” Social isolation and depression might also play a task; Both lead to a lower likelihood of participating in activities that stimulate brain function.

There is currently no cure for this cognitive conundrum, but there's an answer that might help alleviate hearing loss before it becomes so severe that dementia occurs: the stigmatized hearing aid.

Dementia, death and hearing

Lin is co-principal investigator of ACHIEVE, a study This examined whether advice from an audiologist and hearing aids could reduce the danger of dementia in mentally healthy older adults with mild to moderate hearing loss.

He explained that over a three-year period, the hearing intervention reduced further mental decline in people in danger by half, in comparison with individuals with hearing loss but no cognitive risks.

Studies have also shown a link between hearing loss and an increased risk of death. Janet Choi, MD, MPH, an otolaryngologist at Keck Medicine at USC in Los Angeles and principal investigator of a newly published studyexplained that she and her colleagues found that amongst nearly 10,000 adults studied, “those with hearing loss who regularly wore hearing aids had a 24% lower risk than those who never wore hearing aids.” The study also showed that Benefit was maintained over time for normal hearing aid wearers, but not for infrequent or never hearing aid wearers, whatever the degree of hearing loss (mild to severe), age, income and medical history.

The challenge is that many adults don't wish to admit that their hearing isn't as clear because it was once.

“In my personal experience, patients don't bring this up with their doctors and suffer from it for years before they say anything,” said Dr. Leah Ross, a geriatrician at Penn State Health in Hershey, Pennsylvania. At the identical time, “doctors don't always make the connection between hearing loss and impairment and its later effects, even though we see it all the time. It is the third most common chronic condition in older adults.”

Hear hear!

By 2050, an estimated 2.5 billion people worldwide will suffer from a point of hearing loss. One in ten people (700 million people) suffers from severe hearing loss. While neither hearing screening rates nor recommendations keep pace with this future reality, easy steps might be taken now.

  • Avoid excessive noise. “We may not be able to control genetics, but we can control our noise exposure,” Collins said.

    Hearing damage can occur if decibel levels are too high, if someone continually listens to loud music for a protracted time frame, or in the event that they continually turn up the quantity when using earbuds. Noise-induced hearing loss is the one form of hearing loss completely avoidable. It is advisable to avoid regular and prolonged exposure to loud noises, reduce the quantity of listening devices, and use hearing protection (e.g., earmuffs, earplugs, and noise-canceling earphones).

  • Use high-tech help and speak up close. Many people have access to smart technology on phones and televisions. Lin said he uses subtitles when watching movies and shows.

    “If you have visual information on the screen, the brain can associate it with the auditory information without having to catch up.” Face-to-face conversations which might be deliberately conducted close (inside 90 cm) also give the brain a break, providing visual ones Notices and forestall any form of noise distortion, he said.

  • Know your primary hearing number. The hearing number is a snapshot of your hearing at a particular time limit. Since regular hearing screenings are a part of this system that primary care physicians depend on, you possibly can take matters into your personal hands. There are several downloadable apps (e.g Apple's Mimme or them HearWHO of the World Health Organization), which offer you a baseline and track hearing over time so consumers can see an audiologist if the numbers are concerning. Johns Hopkins also has more details about audio numbers his website.
  • Consider an over-the-counter hearing aid.

    “I always recommend patients have their hearing tested first so they know how severe their hearing loss is,” Choi said.

    Fortunately, significant technological advances in hearing aids during the last decade have meant that there are many options available. Hearing aids are smaller, some are invisible and a few appear like Bluetooth devices. And for people in search of ways to cut back background noise, assistive devices llike ClearCast could be preferable. Regardless of what you ultimately select, just be certain that they're FDA-approved and discuss the correct fit along with your doctor.