Over 8 million Canadians have some hearing loss, but many of us struggle with
acknowledging it. People wait on average six years from first noticing they may be hard-
of-hearing to getting a hearing test. But untreated hearing loss can be dangerous. And
hearing loss is virtually impossible to hide.
Here are eight truths that will help you (or a loved one) address any denial.
1. Getting a hearing aid is like wearing reading
Chances are you already own a pair or two of fashionable readers and don't feel
embarrassed about wearing them. Presbyopia, the age-related loss of the eye's ability
to focus on nearby objects, is the visual version of presbycusis, or age-related hearing
loss. Hearing aids are far more discreet than the big beige bananas of old — and many
glamorous people rely on them, including Halle Berry, Jodie Foster, Robert Redford and
2. Even mild hearing loss changes your brain
"The ear sends information to the brain, so when hearing begins to diminish, the brain
changes, too,” says Anu Sharma, a professor at the University of Colorado. For
instance, as hearing wanes, the visual and sensory processing parts of the brain start
using parts of the auditory cortex to understand sounds, a shift that results in less
stimulation — and, as a result, more deterioration — of the auditory cortex over time.
3. Uncorrected hearing loss affects memory
and cognitive abilities
When you're struggling to hear people talk in a crowded restaurant, say, your frontal and
prefrontal cortexes — the parts of the brain that help you think, focus, concentrate and
remember things for brief periods (known as working memory) — become more active.
“Because you're using these parts of the brain to listen, you can't use them as
effectively to understand the meaning of what's being said, so your comprehension
declines,” Dr. Sharma says. Research has confirmed that those with hearing loss have
deficits in the brain's processing speed and executive function, she adds — and has
even linked hearing loss with dementia. An international analysis published in 2017
in The Lancet identified hearing loss as the largest modifiable risk for developing dementia.
4. You’re safer when you hear well
People with hearing loss may not hear smoke alarms or doorbells or sirens that signal
severe weather. What's more, researchers at Johns Hopkins University found that
people with mild hearing loss are three times as likely to fall as people with normal
5. Straining to hear is stressful
Even minimal hearing loss can increase stress, and that can cause all sorts of stress-
related problems, from muscle tension, headaches and fatigue to anxiety, frustration,
anger, irritability and depression.
6. Hearing loss takes a toll on your social life
When hearing is a challenge, it's exhausting to try to follow conversations. It requires a
lot more concentration, and that leads to fatigue. Over time, that level of effort can
become daunting and decrease the joy you take in spending time with people you love.
7. Caring for your hearing is part of an overall
In a perfect world we eat healthy food, stay physically active and get routine cancer
screening tests as we age because we know those things are good for us. Getting your
hearing checked and hearing loss treated is an indispensable part of that stay-well
8. Hearing devices are better than ever
Today, there are “invisible” hearing aids that are placed in your ear canal or behind your
ear, and digital signal processing allows audiologists to precisely adjust hearing aids to
suit your needs. Hearing devices today are Bluetooth-compatible (allowing connection
to Smartphones and Smart TV’s), rechargeable and designed to help improve speech
understanding in background noise, such as at restaurants and family gatherings.
Hearing Well really Matters!
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