Prioritize Better Hearing in the New Year!

Prioritize Better Hearing in the New Year!

In Hearing Health by Nikki DeGeorge Weaver, Au.D.

Nikki DeGeorge Weaver, Au.D.

The holidays are a time to celebrate with loved ones. And for many of us that means catching up with family and friends that our busy schedules don’t otherwise allow us much time to see. It is not uncommon and it is not hard to imagine how simple it is for a lot of us to go too far when celebrating. We eat too much or we drink too much. We are likely to put on a few pounds. So of course we come to associate the holidays with indulgence. 

But of course the holidays also represent a time of intentionality. It is only natural to take stock of one’s life and progress towards one’s goals as we mark the passing of a year and the start of another. We recalibrate our habits to set us on course for the version of ourself that we aspire to become. 

Each one of us is unique. However much we may have in common with anyone else physically, or however many life experiences we have shared, ultimately we each completely unique. But at the root of what we all have in common is the unique experience we each have with our own body. It is difficult to imagine anyone in a physical body not having a bias for comfort. But what exactly does such a bias imply? Comfort does not just mean laziness.  In fact, it is the responsibility of each of us to remain attentive to our body’s unique needs. 

And Ben Franklin’s famous aphorism is common knowledge now: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” This is true when we are children, feeling invincible, and it only becomes more true as we age. We take it for granted that we should all get yearly physicals to monitor our vital signs, our blood pressure and cholesterol. We depend on these yearly physicals to keep an eye on our risk levels for common diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. 

There is no meaningful excuse why we should not treat our hearing health in exactly the same way. 

Early Interventions Prevent Cascading Health Issues

Disabling hearing loss is far more common than most people presume. There are a myriad of social and psychological reasons for this, but the facts remains that hearing loss is more common than diabetes or cancer. Hearing loss impacts almost 14% of the total population of the United States. That is tens of millions of people. 

Part of the reason that hearing loss does not receive the attention that it deserves as a common health risk is that it is very difficult for someone to notice that it is happening to them. It comes on so gradually, it is nearly impossible to notice. In controlled environments, at home, talking with someone one-on-one, giving them your complete concentration, you are likely to not even notice that you are reading lips a little bit. You are probably filling in the blanks of words you are missing with context clues. You are concentrating a little more to follow the conversation and not even noticing. 

This is why hearing loss is most often recognized by others, seeing its symptoms on display. Suddenly someone is asking you to repeat yourself more frequently or they have started listening to their television at an uncomfortable volume. Our hearing depends on objective testing to gauge its acuity. 

Hearing Health = Overall Health

Studies prove that the vast majority of people who suffer from hearing loss downplay its severity, even to themselves. Only around 20% of the people who need it actually keep up with proper treatment. But failure to treat your hearing loss seriously does not just mean increased physical danger. Consider this most common path of compounding consequences that failure to treat your hearing loss almost inevitably leads to: Trouble following conversations in public spaces, especially with two or more people, proves frustrating and fatiguing, so you likely won’t even notice that you have begun to withdraw socially. 

Social withdrawal of course leads to loneliness. And this loneliness leads to depression. Depression often makes one feel frustrated by a lack of control. And all of this not only creates a negative feedback loop of disorientation. The extra cognitive efforts you have been investing in hearing without even knowing that you have been doing so has literally rewritten your neural pathways. 

Do you know how to prevent all of this? Get your hearing examined regularly. New Year’s is a perfect opportunity. Take the initiative and make an appointment with one of our trained professionals today.