If you have difficulties following conversations when there are other noises competing in the background, you are not alone.
Patients often suffer with these difficulties for many years before confronting the problem and having their hearing health assessed. I regularly speak to patients who have made radical changes to their lifestyle because of how they hear, even avoiding social situations they have enjoyed for many years because they are embarrassed about not being able to follow conversations, having to ask for things to be repeated or guessing what has been said.
Hearing loss affects more than 11 million people in the UK. By 2035, it is expected that it will be one-fifth of us. The World Health Organization predicts by 2030 that hearing loss will be in the top-ten disease burdens in the UK – above cataracts and diabetes.
Anyone waiting to have their hearing assessed because they don’t believe hearing aids will help or that their hearing is not bad enough should also consider that a hearing health assessment has other benefits.
Research shows that hearing loss doubles the risk of developing depression and increases the risk of other mental health problems. There is strong evidence that mild hearing loss doubles the risk of developing dementia, with moderate hearing loss leading to three times the risk, and severe hearing loss five times.
There is also evidence that hearing loss is linked to learning disabilities, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, stroke and obesity.
So why do we wait so long before addressing this area of our health, when we would act much quicker to address other health issues?
Age-related or acquired hearing loss does not happen overnight, it can creep up over many years, and so naturally we make compensations, such as turning the TV up or asking people to repeat themselves.
A common misconception is peoples’ belief that hearing aids cannot help them because they “are not deaf”, but as we get older and our hearing diminishes, we don’t “become deaf”. It’s not as simple as that.
Actually, what happens is that we lose the ability to understand speech clearly, especially in background noise, so patients tell us that they can hear but they cannot hear clearly, or it sounds as though people are mumbling.
Another barrier to many seeking help, is that they don’t believe that hearing aids will solve their issues. However, the reality is that discreet modern digital hearing aids are designed specifically to assist with hearing speech in background noise.
Studies have consistently shown that 80-90 per cent of people affected use and get benefit from their hearing aids, and there’s robust evidence that these devices improve the quality of life of people with hearing loss.
The only regret that the vast majority of the patients we see here at House of Hearing have is that they did not seek help with their hearing issues sooner.
In an age when communication at every level is key to our wellbeing and quality of life, it is critical that we seek a solution to our hearing issues as soon as we notice we might be having problems.
If you would like to book an appointment with one of our senior audiologists, call 0131-639 0216, or visit houseofhearing.co.uk/book-an-appointment