Here are some answers to common questions we are asked.
There are research studies that have linked dementia and hearing loss and studies are ongoing as to whether hearing loss is a contributing factor to be a potential cause of dementia. What we can say now is that there is a strong correlation but we can’t say causation. I feel very strongly though that if there is a diagnosis of hearing loss it should be treated as soon as possible as we don’t know the full extent of the link and treating the hearing loss is better than not. Further it would make the diagnosis of dementia or memory issues a little easier to assess if we know the person can at least hear for the testing. With hearing loss, the brain has to allocate much more function to understanding what others say, why not make that easier for the person by treating the hearing loss so the brain can focus its energy on other tasks.
Hearing can become worse over time. But if you adequately protect your ears from noise, keep good heart health and keep diabetes under control, it may never get worse. All of that depends on the
cause of your hearing loss. There are genetic hearing losses that progress with time no matter what you do. Sometimes we do not know the exact cause of your hearing loss, but by protecting what you have your chances of keeping your hearing as strong as possible increases.
The audiological criteria typically used is that if there is hearing loss greater than 25 dB HL at 2000 Hz, hearing aids should be considered. Some people can get by without longer than others, but generally the earlier you start with hearing aids the better you will do in the long run. Waiting is not always a good thing and there are consequences for waiting too long. Talk to your audiologist about when it is right for you. She will consider your hearing test results and what you are experiencing and what can be done with the latest technology and advise you, but if you have hearing loss at some time you will very likely need hearing aids. My advice: don’t wait too long, it only makes things worse.
Hearing loss can creep up on us slowlyand so the signs of hearing loss can often be confused with “selective hearing” or just “not paying attention” or “others are mumbling”. Any or all of these things may be true but without a test you will never really know if it is hearing loss or not. Typically, people lose the high pitch range of hearing which then makes it harder for them to understand speech. They can hear that someone is talking, but may not understand what is being said or that others are talking to them. So typically signs of hearing loss are asking people to repeat what they said, turning the TV up louder to understand (can hear it softer, but not understand), or missing certain types of sounds such as high pitched bells or alarms (i.e. like a microwave beep or the turn signal in the car).
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