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It’s the season of resolutions again, and for many of us this is the perfect time of year to evaluate our health and look for areas of potential improvement. As with every year, we resolve to eat more healthily and do more exercise. How do we keep these resolutions? Experts suggest keeping our resolutions SMART – that is, specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely. While it’s a worthy aim to start hitting the gym several times a week, not many of us consider adding an annual hearing test to our list of goals. But considering that this simple step could protect our hearing health, and our general health as well, maybe we should.
Why is it so important to have regular hearing exams?
1. Hearing loss can happen gradually and is often hard to detect
When some health issues arise, the symptoms are obvious right away and we know it’s necessary to seek immediate treatment. But many other health concerns–such as high blood pressure, cholesterol or diabetes–are subtle and can easily slip under our radar, until they’re detected by a physician.
Many people think that if they had hearing loss, they would be aware of it. But this isn’t always the case. The loss of hearing usually happens gradually over time, and it’s possible to not even realize that hearing loss is occurring until it has become quite advanced. This is why, even if you currently have no symptoms of hearing loss, it’s beneficial to have your hearing checked once a year to establish if there have been any changes.
An annual appointment will give you the satisfaction of knowing you are actively taking care of your hearing, and will also allow your hearing healthcare provider a chance to advise you on beneficial lifestyle changes, hearing protection, and the latest developments in hearing aid technology.
Of course, even if you aren’t due for an annual check-up, you should keep an eye on your day-to-day hearing health and decide whether it’s time to make an appointment with your doctor or audiologist. If you’re experiencing one or more of these symptoms, you’ll want to have your hearing checked right away:
-Sounds seem muffled, or you have a buzzing or ringing in your ears.
-You have difficulty hearing people on the phone.
-You have trouble maintaining conversations in loud environments.
-You often require others to repeat themselves.
-You feel as though others are mumbling or speaking too quickly.
-You need to strain or greatly exert yourself to understand everyone in a conversation.
-People have told you that you watch TV at too high a volume.
-Your friends and family have expressed concerns about your hearing ability.
-You work in an excessively loud environment (This does necessarily mean you have hearing loss, but it puts you at a greater risk than others.)
2. Early hearing loss treatment helps to prevent future health problems
Our bodies are complex systems of interacting subsystems, and when one aspect of our health goes array, it can negatively affect other areas. Hearing loss does not happen in a vacuum, and there are now a number of studies that show how this condition can lead to other serious health issues when it goes untreated.
There is a growing field of research that links untreated hearing loss with an increased risk of cognitive decline and dementia, increased isolation, depression and anxiety. Hearing loss also increases the likelihood of falls, perhaps because hearing is connected with the balance system in our bodies
Fortunately, early diagnosis and treatment of hearing loss can help to protect us from these secondary health concerns. Most people wait too long to take action when it comes to their hearing health–an average of seven years. They may wait until their hearing loss has become severe and is already having a negative effect on other areas of their life and overall health. Having a simple hearing check-up once a year is the best way to avoid being part of that statistic and suffering from poor health in the long-term.
3. Treating hearing loss improves your relationships and overall happiness
Without a circle of family and friends around us, life would be lonely. Sadly, hearing loss often leads to social isolation because relationships are strained by communication difficulties, causing the hard of hearing person to withdraw.
Studies show that untreated hearing loss not only impacts the individual with the loss, but also their family members. Spouses often report feelings of loneliness, increased stress, and resentment when their partners rely on them rather than taking steps to treat their hearing issues.
The good news is that hearing aids can help dramatically, making it possible to once again converse with loved ones and re-establish those important connections. Treating your hearing loss early, before it interferes with daily communication, is the best way to protect your relationships now and in the future.
A baseline hearing test is a great place to start
If the last time you had your hearing checked was in grade school, an easy place to start is a baseline hearing screening. This is a simple, non-invasive hearing check that your doctor or any audiologist can perform. If you pass this test, then no further tests are necessary. If hearing issues are detected, then your doctor will recommend you make an appointment for a comprehensive hearing exam with your audiologist.
To protect your hearing health, make an appointment with Exceptional Hearing Care
Whether you’ve noticed changes in your hearing or it’s just time for a long overdue check-up, Exceptional Hearing Care has you covered. Visit us for a comprehensive hearing exam, expert advice and the peace of mind that comes with being proactive about your hearing health.