Dr. Cynthia L. Ellison, Au.D
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Hearing loss isn’t something that anyone likes to face. Because of stigma, or denial or discomfort, many people don’t address their hearing loss when it first arises. In fact, the average time between when people first notice an issue with their hearing and when they seek treatment is a startling seven years! Unfortunately, the earlier hearing loss is treated the easier it is to manage. To best treat hearing loss, it is important to acknowledge and address hearing issues when they arise.


Hearing Loss May Be Gradual

One aspect of hearing loss that may make it challenging to recognize as an important health concern is the fact that most hearing loss is gradual and progressive in nature. What begins as a seemingly small issue can become significant over time, even if the person with hearing loss senses little change.

Most permanent hearing loss is noise related. Exposing our hearing to extremes of noise can damage the delicate cells in the inner ear that are critical to our hearing. Tiny “hair cells” line the walls of the cochlea in the inner ear and are triggered by the vibrations in the air caused by sound waves. These cells are the link between detecting a sound and transmitting it as an electrical signal to the brain where it is interpreted.

When our hearing is unprotected around dangerously loud sounds it can strain and damage the functioning of the tiny hair cells. Once damaged, these cells cannot repair themselves and unlike other types of cells in the body, they cannot be replaced. A hair cell that is taken out of commission leaves a permanent gap in the range of sound we can detect. Losing these cells is cumulative, and if a significant amount of hair cells is destroyed the result is permanent hearing loss.


Hearing Loss Impacts Your Life

Many people who procrastinate when addressing their hearing issues think of hearing problems as “no big deal”. Hearing loss has a huge impact on how you communicate. From keeping up with your workplace to understanding conversations with your friends and family, being able to quickly and accurately understand speech is the key to success. Without the ability to effectively communicate, we become more vulnerable to depression and anxiety. Often, hearing loss changes our behavior patterns and separates us from activities and events we once enjoyed. Hearing loss can reduce our social activity to the extreme, and can even lead to isolation.

Untreated hearing loss isn’t just linked to quality of life concerns. When left unacknowledged, hearing loss can still contribute to a wide range of chronic conditions. Hearing loss is strongly linked to problems with balance and coordination, often resulting in falling injuries. Untreated hearing loss is also being found to be a stress factor in the development of dementia and cognitive decline. While hearing loss when left untreated can contribute to interconnected health issues, treating hearing loss helps reduce the risk.


Treat Hearing Loss as Early as You Can

While most hearing loss can be managed with treatment, you stand to gain the most benefit when hearing loss is treated early. Catching significant hearing loss at its early stages prevents communication problems from taking root and preserves quality of life. Using treatment options such as hearing aids keeps you engaged in your social and professional spheres.

As hearing loss develops, the brain gradually changes its behavior to fill in the “blank spots” when comprehending sound and speech. This means that over time, our mind overwrites the way it hears sound. The longer you wait to address hearing loss, the more potential changes have happened at the mental level of hearing and this can make new hearing aids hard to adapt to. The earlier hearing issues are acknowledged, the closer your brain’s patterns will be to healthy hearing and adjusting to hearing devices is often faster and more effective.


Franklin Hearing Center

No matter how long you have been living with hearing issues, treating them can help. Even though most hearing loss is permanent, hearing aids and assistive devices can help effectively manage hearing impairment and improve comprehension and quality of life.

Ready to take the next step with your hearing issue? Franklin Hearing Center can help. We offer comprehensive hearing exams as well as a wide range of hearing aids and assistive products. We’re there with you every step of the way to provide you with personalized care and treatment options fine-tuned to fit your needs and lifestyle.