Over the years, hearing aids have had a stigma. Some people just associate them with aging. The consequences?
Countless people, both old and young, go without hearing aids and suffer unnecessarily from hearing loss, which itself is connected to numerous health concerns. The numbers back this up: 30 million people in the United States dealing with hearing loss, yet only around 15 percent of that population has ever worn a hearing aid.
What’s more, the youth are suffering from hearing loss in higher numbers than ever before: a WHO report from 2015 predicted that too much use of headphones and overly loud concert events and festivals will cause over 1.1 billion teenagers and young adults to permanently damage their hearing.
However, changing attitudes and sophisticated technology have begun to frame hearing aids in a new light, and people are starting to view them in a similar way they view eye-glasses.
If You Require Hearing Aids, You Should Use Them, Here’s Why
There are a lots of reasons why wearing hearing aids is a smart idea, some of them obvious and some of them surprising.
Some of the most common reasons are as follows:
- You can lessen tinnitus symptoms
- You’ll give your brain a rest
- You won’t have to turn the TV or music up
- You can appreciate social activities and settings again
- You’ll increase your earning power
- One of the obvious reasons would be that you can hear better
- You won’t struggle as much having conversations
Do these seem like beneficial reasons to you? Some benefit can be gained by wearing hearing aids even for people with mild hearing loss.
What many people don’t know is that hearing loss is associated with cognitive decline, mental health issues, and conditions such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
This could happen for a number of different reasons based on recent studies, this involves the overworking of the brain as it battles to comprehend sounds that it hears. it could be that the brain cells shrink and die because they don’t receive enough stimulation, or it could be due to the leading cause of anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues which is social isolation.
Hearing aids can change things for the better by letting you hear clearly and comprehend the words and sounds around you. Your brain won’t need to use additional resources and will be capable of processing sounds in a normal way, while you will start to enjoy conversations and social activities again because you will have a boost in confidence.
Hearing Aids Have Advanced in Sophistication
By now it should be apparent why people of any age should use hearing aids if they require them. Now it’s time to discover how hearing aids have advanced in the last few years.
If really think you would like one of those big over the ear hearing aids, you can still get one. They also have advanced to the point that they can determine where sound is originating from and can filter out sound effectively. Conversely, there are new and improved versions of hearing aids that are almost invisible, yet contain a lot of technology to fit in with today’s digital environment.
Is connecting your hearing aids to your Bluetooth devices including your tv, phone, or tablet something you would like to do? Most modern-day hearing aids have Bluetooth technology so you’re in luck. There are even higher-end models that can automatically take and make phone calls for you, keep track of your physical activity, and stream music. Smart hearing aids are becoming a must for anyone who has hearing loss because much like your smartphone or smartwatch, they’re just created to do more. So now that you are ready to deal with your hearing loss and begin wearing a hearing aid, contact us for an appointment and hearing assessment.
Generally, hearing loss is considered to be an issue that affects our personal life. It’s about you and your well being, between you and your hearing specialist. Personal. And that’s accurate, on an individual level. But when we talk about hearing loss in a larger context, as something that impacts 466 million people, it’s necessary that we also understand it as a public health issue.
That simply means, broadly speaking, that hearing loss should be thought about as something that has an impact on all of society. So as a society, we need to think about how to manage it.
Hearing Loss Comes at a Cost
William has hearing loss. He just learned last week and he’s resolved that he doesn’t really want to mess around with any of those hearing aids just yet (against the recommendations of his hearing specialist). Unfortunately, this impacts William’s job performance; he’s begun to slow down in his work and is having a difficult time keeping up in meetings, etc.
He also spends much more time at home alone. It’s just too difficult trying to keep up with all the layers of conversation (he feels like people talk too much anyway). So rather than going out, William self-isolates.
After a while, these decisions accumulate for William.
- Economic cost: Neglecting his hearing loss can impact his income over time. Some amount of unemployment can be a consequence of hearing loss according to the World Health Organization. Overall, this can cost the world economy as much as $105 billion in lost income and revenue. And that’s only the beginning as that lost income has a ripple effect through economic systems.
- Social cost: William is missing his family and friends! His relationships are harmed because of his social isolation. It’s feasible that his friends don’t even know about his hearing loss, so when he doesn’t hear them he seems distant. It can come across as insensitivity or anger. This puts further tension on their relationships.
Why It’s a “Public Health” Issue
While on a personal level these costs will definitely be felt (William might miss his friends or be down about his economic position), everyone else is also influenced. William isn’t spending as much at local stores because he has less money. More attention will need to be given to William by his family because he doesn’t have as many friends. His health can be impacted overall and can lead to increased healthcare costs. The costs are then passed down to the public if he isn’t insured. And so, those around William are effected quite profoundly.
Now take William and multiply him by 466 million and you will have an idea of why public health officials look at hearing loss very seriously.
How to Treat Hearing Loss
Thankfully, there are two pretty straight forward ways to improve this specific public health issue: prevention and treatment. When hearing loss is managed effectively (normally by wearing hearing aids), you can have pretty dramatic results:
- It will be easier to participate in many social functions if you’re able to hear better.
- You’ll have a much easier time managing the demands of your job.
- With treatment for hearing loss, you might be capable of lowering your chances of several linked conditions, like anxiety, depression, dementia, or balance issues.
- Communicating with friends and family will be easier so you will notice your relationships get better.
Dealing with your hearing loss is one way to stimulate strong health, both physically and mentally. A lot more hearing professionals are making a priority of caring for your hearing which makes a lot of sense.
It’s equally important to think of prevention. Public information strategies aim at giving people the information they need to avoid loud, harmful noise. But common noises such as mowing your lawn or listening to headphones can even result in hearing loss.
You can download apps that will monitor sound levels and caution you when they get too loud. One way to have a big effect is to protect the public’s hearing, often via education.
A Little Help Goes a Long Way
Some states in the U.S. are even altering the way that health insurance deals with hearing health. good public health policy and strong evidence have inspired this approach. When we alter our thinking concerning hearing loss, and about preventing hearing loss, we can dramatically affect public health for the good.
And everybody is helped by that.
When was the last time you used that old ear trumpet? No? You don’t use one? Because that technology is hundreds of years old. Okay, I suppose that seems logical. Ear trumpets are a bit… antiquated.
The modern(ish) hearing aid, it turns out, was developed during the 1950s–the basic design, that is. And that old model hearing aid tends to be the one we generally remember and picture. The trouble is that a hearing aid made in the 1950s is just about as out-dated as an ear trumpet. We need to really advance our thinking if we want to understand how much more advanced modern hearing aids are.
The History of Hearing Aids
It’s worthwhile to have some context concerning where hearing aids started so that you can better understand how advanced they have become. If we trace the history back far enough, you can most likely find some type of hearing assistance device as far back as the 1500s (whether any of them ever really helped you hear better is still up for debate).
The “ear trumpet” was most likely the first partially effective hearing assistance approach. This device looked like an elongated trumpet. You would put the narrow end inside your ear so that the wide end faced out. At present, you wouldn’t think of this device as high tech, but back then they actually offer some assistance.
When electricity was introduced, hearing aids had a major revolution. The hearing aid as we now know it was really created in the 1950s. In order to do their job, they made use of large old fashioned style batteries and transistors in a fairly rudimentary design. But a hearing aid that could be easily worn and hidden started with these devices. The hearing aids of the 1950s might have appeared similar to modern hearing aids but the technology and capability is worlds apart.
Modern Features of Hearing Aids
Modern hearing aids are a technological masterpieces, to put it plainly. And they continue making improvements. Since the late twentieth century, modern hearing aids have been using digital technologies in several significant ways. The first, and the most crucial way, is straight forward: power. Modern hearing aids can pack considerably more power into a much smaller area than their earlier predecessors.
And with that greater power comes a large number of innovative developments:
- Speech recognition: The ultimate goal, for many hearing aid owners, is to enable communication. Isolating and amplifying voices, then, is a primary feature of the software of many hearing aids–from a busy restaurant to an echo-y meeting hall, this feature is useful in many situations.
- Construction: Modern hearing aids are normally made of high tech materials, so they feel more comfortable. While these new materials enable hearing aids to be more comfortable, it also enables them to be more heavy-duty. It’s easy to see how hearing aids have advanced on the outside as well as the inside by adding long lasting and rechargeable batteries.
- Health monitoring: State-of-the-art Health tracking software is also integrated into modern hearing aid options. For instance, some hearing aids can recognize whether you’ve fallen. Other features can count your steps or give you exercise support.
- Bluetooth connectivity: Your hearing aids are now able to connect to other devices using wireless Bluetooth technology. This can be incredibly helpful every day. Older hearing aids, for instance, would have irritating feedback when you would try to talk on the phone. With contemporary hearing aids, you can just connect to your cellphone via Bluetooth connectivity and never miss a call. This applies to a wide variety of other situations involving electronic devices. Because there’s no interference or feedback, it’s easier to listen to music, watch TV–you name it.
- Selective amplification: Hearing loss doesn’t occur through all wavelengths and frequencies uniformly. Perhaps you have a harder time hearing high-frequency sounds (or vice versa). Modern hearing aids are far more effective because they are able to boost only the frequencies you have a hard time hearing.
Just like rotary phones no longer exemplify long-distance communication, the hearing aids of old no longer represent what these devices are. Hearing aids aren’t what they once were. And we should be excited because they’re substantially better than they were.
Hearing loss is thought of as a typical part of growing older: as we age, we begin to hear things a little less distinctly. Perhaps we need to keep asking the grandkids to repeat themselves when they talk, or we have to start turning up the volume on the TV, or perhaps…we start…where was I going with this…oh ya. Maybe we start forgetting things.
Memory loss is also often thought to be a normal part of aging because dementia and Alzheimer’s are a lot more prevalent in the older population than the general population at large. But is it possible that the two are connected somehow? And, even better, what if there were a way to treat hearing loss and also protect your memories and mental health?
Cognitive Decline And Hearing Loss
With almost 30 million individuals in the United States suffering from hearing loss, the majority of them do not connect hearing loss with mental decline and dementia. However, the link is quite clear if you look in the right direction: research has shown that there is a significant risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia-like ailments if you also suffer from hearing loss – even at fairly low levels of hearing impairment.
Mental health problems such as depression and anxiety are also pretty prevalent in people who suffer from hearing loss. The key here is that hearing loss, mental health concerns, and cognitive decline all have an effect on our ability to be social.
Why is Cognitive Decline Linked to Hearing Loss?
While cognitive decline and mental health problems haven’t been definitively proven to be linked to hearing loss, there is clearly some link and several clues that experts are looking into. There are two primary scenarios they have identified that they believe lead to problems: failure to socialize and your brain working overtime.
Many studies show that loneliness results in anxiety and depression. And when people are dealing with hearing loss, they’re not as likely to socialize with other people. Many people can’t enjoy things like attending a movie because they find it too difficult to hear the dialog. People who are in this situation tend to begin to isolate themselves which can lead to mental health concerns.
researchers have also discovered that the brain frequently has to work overtime because the ears aren’t working like they should. The region of the brain which is in control of understanding sounds, such as voices in a conversation, demands more help from other portion of the brain – namely, the part of the brain that keeps our memories intact. This overtaxes the brain and causes cognitive decline to set in much faster than if the brain could process sounds normally.
Wearing Hearing Aids to Stop Cognitive Decline
Hearing aids improve our ability to hear letting the brain to use it’s resources in a normal manner which is our best defense against cognitive decline and dementia. Research has shown that patients improved their cognitive functions and had a lower rate of dementia when they used hearing aids to fight their hearing loss.
In fact, if more people wore their hearing aids, we might see less cases of mental health issues and cognitive decline. Between 15% and 30% of individuals who require hearing aids actually use them, that’s 4.5 to 9 million people. It’s estimated by the World Health Organization that there are almost 50 million individuals who have some form of dementia. If hearing aids can decrease that number by even just a couple of million people, the quality of life for lots of people and families will improve exponentially.
Let’s set the stage: You’re lying in bed trying to sleep after a long exhausting day. You feel yourself starting to drift off to sleep. Then you hear it: a buzzing sound inside your ears. Your phone, TV, and radio are all switched off so you’re sure it’s nothing inside your room. Unfortunately, this sound is inside your ears and it won’t stop.
If this situation has happened to you, then it’s likely that you’re one of the 50 million people who have tinnitus. This problem causes you to hear ringing, buzzing, and whooshing sounds, among others, in your ears. For the majority of people, tinnitus will not have a significant affect on their lives besides being a simple annoyance. For others, unfortunately, tinnitus can be unbearable and cause them to lose sleep and have difficulty engaging in work and recreational activities.
What Causes Tinnitus?
Tinnitus is still a bit of a mystery, but this condition has been narrowed down to a handful of causes. It shows up commonly in people who have damaged hearing, as well as individuals who suffer from heart problems. Restricted blood flow around the ears is generally considered to be the underlying cause of tinnitus. This causes the heart to have to work harder to pump blood to where it’s needed. People who have iron-deficiency anemia commonly suffer from tinnitus symptoms because their blood cells do not carry enough oxygen throughout their body, which, again, makes the heart work extra hard to get oxygen and other nutrients where they need to go.
Tinnitus also happens as a result of other conditions, such as ear infections, canal blockages, and Meniere’s disease. All of these conditions affect the hearing and lead to situations where tinnitus becomes more prevalent. In some cases treatment can be challenging when the cause of tinnitus is not easily discernible, but that doesn’t mean treatment isn’t possible.
How Can Tinnitus be Treated?
There are several treatments available to help stop the ringing in your ears, all dependent on the root cause of your tinnitus. One relevant thing to note, however, is that there is presently no known cure for tinnitus. But these treatments will still offer a good chance for your tinnitus to get better or go away completely.
Research has shown that hearing aids help mask tinnitus in people who have hearing loss.
If covering up the noise isn’t helpful, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) has been proven to help people live with the ringing in their ears that does not fade away with other treatments. This mental health style of treatment can help people who have tinnitus to function more normally on a day to day basis by helping them change their negative thoughts into a more positive mindset.
Everyone wants to stay young for as long as they can. From gym memberships to Botox to wrinkle cream to special diets, we spend a great number of hours every day doing what we can to slow down the aging process. And yet, even with all that effort (and all that time), the one thing that could actually work, we often avoid: wearing ear protection.
The majority of people most likely think of hearing loss as inevitable as we get older. But it’s not that simple. You can keep your hearing in good condition and help avoid damage by safeguarding and taking care of your ears. And excellent hearing can have considerable anti-aging effects as the years go on.
Hearing And Aging
When we discuss “aging” we don’t usually mean the actual passing of time. Instead, “aging” generally refers to the presentation of certain physical, mental, or emotional attributes that we associate with aging. Joint pain is a perfect example of this. You may relate sore knees, for example, with “growing old”. But lifestyle has as much to do with this as age does.
The same will also apply to many types of hearing loss. As you get older, damage builds up. The accumulation of damage, in most instances, is the real cause of hearing deterioration. And that’s when the problems can begin to snowball. Neglected hearing loss has been linked to several other indications of aging:
- Occasionally, issues such as insomnia and memory loss, can be triggered by the cognitive strain of trying to hear. And, in an especially intense way, that can make you feel like you are getting old.
- Self isolation from family and friends can be the outcome of neglected hearing loss.
- Anxiety and depression have been shown to have a significant connection to hearing loss.
- When hearing impairments are unnoticed and untreated they can sometimes accelerate the onset of other mental health issues, including dementia.
What to do About Age Related Hearing Loss
You’re actually emphasizing damage prevention when you battle the “signs of aging” in your ears. And thankfully, there are a few ways to accomplish that. For example, you can:
- Try to avoid loud noises as much as possible. If you have to expose yourself to loud noise, use hearing protection. So make certain you use earplugs when you go see your favorite band.
- Become more aware. You can still suffer damage to your hearing even if sounds aren’t painfully loud. Moderate noise for longer periods of time can cause damage to your ears, too.
- Wear ear protection to work if your job exposes you to loud noise. With modern quality ear muffs, loud noises are eliminated while you can still hear people speaking clearly.
Your ears can be protected by all of these steps. But if you want to keep your hearing in good shape you can do one more thing: make an appointment with us for a hearing examination. Catching hearing loss before you even notice it can be achieved by having regular tests. Even if your hearing is perfectly fine, an exam will still be capable of providing a useful baseline to compare against future results.
Keep Your Ears Healthy by Wearing Hearing Aids
The world we live in can be boisterous. Your ability to protect against damage is essential, but you may ultimately notice some hearing loss even with your best efforts. You need to seek out help right away if you do detect any symptoms of hearing loss. A good set of hearing aids can help counter some of the so-called age-related problems related to hearing impairments.
You could maybe think of hearing aids as a facelift for your ears: something to make your ears to work a little more youthfully. And dementia, depression, and other problems can be avoided. The analogy isn’t ideal, because hearing aids are needed and a facelift isn’t, but you get the point. Wrinkle creams may help you look younger. But if you really want to combat aging and feel a bit more youthful, your best bet is to protect your ears and deal with your hearing loss.
Have you ever seen the “Beware of Sharks” sign when you’re at the ocean? It’s not exactly a warning you disregard. You may even rethink swimming at all with a sign like that (if the warning is written in big red letters that’s particularly true). But people don’t tend to pay attention to warnings about their hearing in the same way for some reason.
Recent studies have found that millions of people disregard warning signs when it comes to their hearing (this research specifically considered populations in the United Kingdom, but there’s little doubt the problem is more global than that). Knowledge is a huge part of the issue. It’s pretty instinctive to be scared of sharks. But the majority of people don’t have an overt fear of loud noises. And the real question is, what’s too loud?
Loud And Hazardous Sound is All Around us
It’s not just the rock concerts or the machine shop floors that present dangers to your ears (not to downplay the hearing hazards of these scenarios). There are potential hazards with many every-day sounds. That’s because it’s not just the volume of a sound that is dangerous; it’s also the duration. Even low-level noises, such as dense city traffic, can be dangerous to your hearing if you are exposed for more than two hours.
keep reading to find out when sound gets too loud:
- 30 dB: Normal conversation would be at this sound level. At this level, there won’t be a limit to how long you can safely be exposed.
- 80 – 85 dB: An air conditioner, heavy traffic, and lawn equipment are at this volume. This level of sound will usually become dangerous after two hours of exposure.
- 90 – 95 dB: Think of how loud a motorcycle is. This amount of exposure becomes harmful in as little as 50 minutes of exposure.
- 100 dB: An oncoming subway train or a mid-sized sporting event are at this volume (of course, this depends on the city). 15 minutes of exposure will be enough to be dangerous at this sound level.
- 110 dB: Have you ever cranked your Spotify music up to ten? On most smartphones, that’s right around this level. This level of exposure is dangerous after only 5 minutes of exposure.
- 120 dB and over: Immediate pain and injury can occur at or above this level (think about an arena sized sports event or rock concert).
What Does 85 Decibels Sound Like?
In general, you should look at anything 85 dB or above as putting your hearing at risk. But it can be difficult to distinguish how loud 85 dB is and that’s the difficulty. It’s not tangible in the way that a shark is tangible.
And that’s one reason why hearing cautions frequently go ignored, specifically when the sound environment isn’t loud enough to cause pain. There are a couple of potential solutions to this:
- Sufficient training and signage: This applies to the workplace, in particular. Training and signage can help reinforce the significant hazards of hearing loss (and the advantages of protecting your hearing). Signage could also let you know just how noisy your workplace is. Training can help employees know when hearing protection is necessary or suggested.
- Get an app: There isn’t an app that’s going to directly safeguard your ears. But there are a number of free apps that can work as sound level monitors. Damage to your hearing can happen without you realizing it because it’s hard to recognize just how loud 85 dB feels. The solution, then, is to have this app open and track the sound levels around you. Using this strategy will make it more instinctive to recognize when you are moving into the “danger zone”. (Or, the app will merely let you know when things get too loud).
When in Doubt: Protect
No signage or app will ever be 100%. So take the time to safeguard your hearing if you are in doubt. Over a long enough period of time, noise damage will almost certainly create hearing problems. And nowadays, it’s never been easier to harm your ears (all you have to do is turn your headphone volume up a little too high).
You shouldn’t increase the volume past half way, specifically if you’re listening all day. If you keep turning it up to hear your music over background sound you should find different headphones that can block out noise.
So when volume becomes too loud, it’s essential to accept it. And to do that, you need to increase your own recognition and knowledge level. Protecting your ears, using earplugs, earmuffs, or decreasing your exposure, is easy enough. That begins with a little knowledge of when you should do it.
Today that should also be easier. Especially now that you understand what to look for.
Schedule a hearing examination today if you think you may have hearing loss.
When your favorite tune comes on the radio, do you find yourself turning the volume up? Lots of people do that. There’s something visceral about pumping up the music. And it’s enjoyable. But, here’s the situation: there can also be considerable damage done.
In the past we weren’t conscious of the relationship between hearing loss and music. Volume is the biggest issue(both in terms of sound intensity and the number of listening sessions in a day). And many musicians are rethinking how they approach coping with the volume of their music.
Hearing Loss And Musicians
It’s a fairly famous irony that, later in life, classical composer Ludwig van Beethoven was hard of hearing. He couldn’t hear any of the music he composed (except in his head). On one occasion he even needed to be turned around to see the thunderous applause from his audience because he couldn’t hear it.
Beethoven may be the first and most well-known example of the deaf musician, but he surely isn’t the last. In fact, a far more recent generation of rock musicians, all known for cranking their speakers (and performances) up to 11–have begun to go public with their own hearing loss experiences.
From Eric Clapton to Neil Diamond to will.i.am, the stories all sound remarkably similar. Being a musician means spending just about every day sandwiched between blaring speakers and roaring crowds. Noticeable damage including tinnitus and hearing loss will eventually be the result.
Even if You’re Not a Musician This Could Still be an Issue
You may think that because you’re not personally a rock star or a musician, this might not apply to you. You don’t have millions of cheering fans screaming at you (usually). And you’re not standing near a wall of amplifiers.
But you do have a pair of earbuds and your chosen playlist. And there’s the problem. Thanks to the modern features of earbuds, nearly everyone can enjoy life like a musician, flooded by sound and music at way too high a volume.
The ease with which you can expose yourself to damaging and constant sounds make this one time cliche complaint into a substantial cause for concern.
So How Can You Protect Your Ears When Listening to Music?
So, first we need to admit there’s a problem (that’s kind of always the first step, but it’s particularly true in this case). People are putting their hearing in peril and need to be made aware of it (particularly more impressionable, younger people). But you also need to take some other steps too:
- Use ear protection: Wear earplugs when you attend a concert or any other live music show. They won’t really lessen your experience. But they will protect your ears from the most severe of the injury. (And don’t think that using hearing protection will make you uncool because it’s what the majority of your favorite musicians are doing.).
- Keep your volume under control: If you exceed a safe volume your smartphone might alert you. If you care about your long-term hearing, you should listen to these warnings.
- Download a volume-monitoring app: You might not comprehend just how loud a rock concert or music venue is. It can be beneficial to download one of several free apps that will give you a volume measurement of your environment. This can help you keep track of what’s dangerous and what’s not.
In many ways, the math here is pretty straight forward: you will have more extreme hearing loss later on the more you put your hearing at risk. Eric Clapton, for instance, has completely lost his hearing. If he knew, he probably would have begun protecting his hearing sooner.
Decreasing exposure, then, is the best way to limit damage. That can be challenging for individuals who work at a concert venue. Ear protection could provide part of a solution there.
But all of us would be a little better off if we simply turned the volume down to practical levels.
If you take good care of them, hearing aids can last for years. But they are only helpful if they still address your level of hearing loss. Similar to prescription glasses, your hearing aids are programmed to your specific hearing loss, which needs to be examined on a regular basis. Here’s how long you can anticipate your hearing aids will last assuming they are fitted and programmed properly.
Do Hearing Aids Expire?
Nearly everything you buy has a shelf life. It could take a couple of weeks for the milk inside your fridge to expire. Several months to several years is the shelf life of canned products. Within the next few years or so, even your new high-def TV will need to be swapped out. So finding out that your hearing aids have a shelf life is most likely not very surprising.
Generally, a pair of hearing aids will last approximately 2-5 years, though with the technology coming out you may want to upgrade sooner. But the shelf life of your hearing aids will be based upon several possible factors:
- Care: This should come as no surprise, but the better care for hearing aids, the longer they will last. This means making certain your hearing aids are cleaned regularly and have any necessary regular upkeep. Time put into proper care will translate almost directly into increased operational time.
- Construction: Materials like nano-coated plastics, silicon, and metal are used to build modern hearing aids. Some wear-and-tear can be expected despite the fact that hearing aids are designed to be durable and ergonomic. If you’re prone to dropping your hearing aids, their longevity will be impacted regardless of quality construction.
- Batteries: Most (but not all) hearing aids currently use rechargeable, internal batteries. The type of battery or power supply your hearing aids use can dramatically influence the overall shelf life of various models.
- Type: There are two primary types of hearing aids: inside-the-ear and behind-the-ear. Because they are exposed to the sweat, dirt, and debris from the ear canal, inside-the-ear models normally have a shelf life of about five years. Because they are able to remain cleaner and dryer, behind the ear models usually last 6-7 years.
In most circumstances, the shelf life of your hearing aid is an estimation determined by typical usage. But the potential life expectancy of your hearing aids is lessened if they’re not used regularly (leaving your hearing aids neglected on a shelf and unmaintained can also diminish the lifespan of your hearing aids).
Hearing aids should also be inspected and professionally cleaned every so often. This helps make certain that there is no wax buildup and that they still fit correctly.
Upgrading Hearing Aids Before They Wear Out
There could come a time when, down the road, your hearing aid functionality begins to decline. And it will be time, therefore, to start shopping for a new pair. But there will be situations when it will be beneficial to buy a more modern hearing aid before your current one shows signs of wear. Some of those scenarios might include:
- Changes in your hearing: If your hearing gets substantially worse (or better), the characteristics of your hearing assistance change too. Put simply, your hearing aids will no longer be adjusted to yield the best possible benefits. In these situations, a new hearing aid might be necessary for you to hear optimally.
- Changes in technology: Hearing aids are becoming more useful in novel ways every year. If one of these cutting edge technologies looks like it’s going to help you significantly, it could be worth investing in a new pair of devices sooner rather than later.
- Your lifestyle changes: You could, in some cases, have a specific lifestyle in mind when you purchase your hearing aids. But maybe now your lifestyle changes require you to get hearing aids that are more durable or waterproof or rechargeable.
You can see why it’s hard to predict a timetable for updating your hearing aids. How many years your hearing aids will fit your needs depends on a handful of variables, but you can generally count on that 2-5 year range.
Have you ever tried to ignore a toothache? They can be pretty tough. Before long, you end up having no choice but to consult a dentist. The same thing happens when your eyesight begins to blur. When you have difficulties reading street signs, you’ll probably make a consultation with an ophthalmologist. The trouble is, you might not show nearly as much urgency when your hearing starts to go.
This would probably be an oversight. Untreated hearing loss can be the reason for significant health problems (specifically mental problems). Naturally, you can only neglect your diminishing hearing if you’re actually aware of it. And there’s the second problem.
Indications You Might Have Hearing Loss
We often take our hearing for granted. A high volume music event? No worry. Blasting ear pods? You prefer to listen to your podcasts this way. But your overall hearing will be significantly affected by all of these choices, particularly in the long run.
Sadly, those impacts might be hard to notice. The indications of hearing loss can be virtually invisible because they creep up so slowly over time. That’s why it’s a smart idea to know some basic red flags (and to make sure you don’t ignore them):
- You encounter unexpected problems with short term memory
- You usually have to turn up the volume on your devices
- Voices of those near you (family, co-workers, friends) sounds dull or distorted
- You can’t maintain a set of earbuds because you keep blowing the speakers
- You feel an unexplained sense of fatigue or have significant difficulty falling asleep at night
- When you listen to casual speech, you have an especially difficult time hearing consonants
- You regularly need to ask individuals to repeat what they said
- It’s challenging to understand conversations in noisy or crowded surroundings
It’s fairly well recognized what these red flags and signs mean. If your loss of hearing comes on particularly slowly, your brain will immediately begin to compensate for any hearing loss that develops, making you somewhat unaware, at first, to your symptoms. That’s why any of these warning signs should be taken seriously, which means you should make an appointment to see your hearing specialist.
If You Neglect Your Hearing Loss, What Will Happen?
Some people are, indeed, obstinate. Or they just don’t favor the concept of wearing a hearing aid. They maintain this fear that wearing a hearing aid is some sort of immediate sign for old age (as if constantly asking people to speak up is a sign of everlasting youth). But that’s not really the situation (most hearing aids can be quite discreet, and being able to converse fluently is a boon, too).
Still, if you neglect hearing loss it could lead to numerous issues:
- You could have tense relationships: There’s something that occurs when you have a hard time understanding your friends and family: you stop talking to them. You quit saying hi, you quit checking in, you distance yourself. Some of those relationships will be ruined, specifically if the issue is hearing loss that you have kept secret (and not some unspoken bitterness).
- You could cause your hearing to worsen: If you don’t utilize hearing aids or increased hearing protection, you’ll keep turning the volume on your television up. Or you’ll keep intending to rock shows without any earplugs. Which means you’ll keep doing damage to your ears and your hearing will almost definitely keep declining because of it.
- Depression and cognitive decline could result: You might begin to discover signs of depression as your relationships fizzle and going out becomes more challenging. You might also start to experience some cognitive decline without the auditory activation your brain is used to, your neural physiology starts to experience certain changes. This can lead to long term cognitive difficulties if your hearing loss isn’t managed.
Hearing Loss Shouldn’t be Ignored
Later on, clearly, bigger and more substantial problems can be caused by hearing loss. On the other hand, your quality of life can be substantially improved by recognizing and managing your hearing loss. Your daily life is more full and your relationships get better when you begin to hear better. And improving your awareness, either by consulting a hearing specialist or downloading a noise-monitoring app, can improve your overall hearing health.
You definitely shouldn’t ignore the health concern of hearing loss. A happier life starts when you find the right treatment. Take care of your hearing loss before it gets too severe to ignore.
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“I have been with Evanston Audiology for almost eight years. During this time, the staff has always responded in a timely fashion to all my hearing needs: testing, fitting, aid changes, questions and appointments. I have been so pleased with the service, I have recommended the group numerous times to friends. They too have been satisfied with the professional advice and service.”
Tom H., Patient