May is better hearing month. Better hearing can offer valuable benefits by improving the quality of one’s life in so many ways. Here are 10 such ways for you to consider if you or a loved one is experiencing hearing loss.
1. Better hearing leads to a healthier, more active brain.
It is well accepted that some brain atrophy occurs naturally with aging. Research released in 2011 by scientist Dr. Frank Lin at John Hopkins and the National Institute on aging, however, shows that in older adults with hearing loss the rate of brain atrophy is accelerated.
2. Better hearing leads to less memory loss.
A study published in the Journal of the American Geriatric Society shows that hearing technology slows down age-related memory loss by 75 percent!
Studies have demonstrated that the effective use of hearing aids can allow one to maintain stronger memory over a longer time than if you had not treated your hearing loss.
3. Better hearing leads to a more active social life.
We all know how frustrating it is not to be heard or to have to repeat oneself. Persons with better hearing can participate more fully in conversations and activities, especially those involving an open environment with background noises. Because they are functioning in the same capacity as those around them, everyone is without hesitation engaging them in more discussions and activities.
4. Better hearing leads to less tinnitus.
Tinnitus is a noise that is only perceived by the affected person. It is commonly described as a soft, high-pitched humming, hissing, pulsatile, ringing or even roaring sound in the ears. Current research indicates that the sound is generated from an area deep inside the ear. This ringing commonly occurs after trauma, illnesses, medications, aging, or a prolonged grinding of the teeth.
While many people suffer from tinnitus, it can sometimes be debilitating, disrupting one’s ability to function during the daytime or get a good night’s sleep. Generally, white noise or other distracting noises make the tinnitus less noticeable. Correcting the hearing loss also often resolves the tinnitus, with many hearing aids having settings that can help make the tinnitus less noticeable.
5. Better hearing leads to safety.
Being able to hear and interact with more noises in the environment and the events happening around you is critical for safety. Better hearing enables you to detect sirens, alarms, traffic noises, cell phones, doorbells, and other important signs at home, work, and out in the community.
Better hearing makes driving much safer for the elderly. Hearing is a crucial part of being able to respond faster to other vehicles on the road, including emergency vehicles that may be approaching.
Hearing, along with vision, improves overall reaction to environmental clues that keep us safe.
6. Better hearing leads to less fatigue.
Straining to hear is tiring. Additionally, patients with tinnitus and hearing loss have higher rates of anxiety, stress, depression and sleep disturbances. As a result, thinking and understanding can be affected, and one can feel fatigued with sleep deprivation.
7. Better hearing leads to fewer headaches.
Having yearly hearing checks is a good idea even if you have great hearing. If you have a history of migraine headaches, it may even be a better move to make sure your hearing health is at its best. Studies have suggested that hearing loss and tinnitus are associated with several types of headache disorders including migraine headaches. Patients with tinnitus have higher rates of migraine headaches.
8. Better hearing leads to more confidence in the workplace.
Functioning in a meeting setting with many people talking, especially in the presence of other background noises, can be very frustrating and stressful for a person with hearing loss. In those situations where one needs to keep up with the discussion without much if any time to ask another participant what was said, being unable to respond can lead to a sense of poor performance and leadership.
9. Better hearing leads to better speech.
This is particularly true in children who have not as yet acquired language skills. Often this type of hearing loss is caused by fluid in the middle ear space and is reversible. A simple surgical procedure that inserts draining tubes works very well.
The fluid present in the middle ear space blocks the ability to hear clearly and therefore, while the child may be able to hear well enough to carry out simple tasks, their speech clarity and number of words utilized can be significantly affected.
10. Better hearing leads to a better marriage!
While listening and hearing are not the same problems, not hearing your spouse is often the culprit in many marital arguments. This is especially true as hearing loss sets in with aging and as technology creates more background noises as well, both of which decrease our ability to listen to our partners from another area in the house.
Better communication then requires one or the other spouse to move to be heard. This leads to fewer conversations and greater frustration.
If you suspect you or a loved one needs help with a hearing evaluation, contact your doctor.
Dr. Inell Rosario was born and raised on Andros, an island in the Bahamas. She graduated from Macalester College in 1987 with a Bachelor of Arts and went on to attend medical school at the University of Minnesota. She is board-certified in otolaryngology, head and neck surgery, and sleep medicine. She is the president of Andros ENT & Sleep Center. When she isn’t working at the clinic, Dr. Rosario likes to exercise, play basketball, and do mission work. She is married and has two children.
Charles E. Crutchfield III, MD is a board-certified dermatologist and Clinical Professor of Dermatology at the University of Minnesota Medical School. He also has a private practice in Eagan, MN. He received his M.D. and Master’s Degree in Molecular Biology and Genomics from the Mayo Clinic. He is the team dermatologist for the Minnesota Twins, Vikings, Timberwolves, Wild and Lynx. Dr. Crutchfield is an active member of both the American and National Medical Associations, and president of the Minnesota Association of Black Physicians.