At every age, connecting with other human beings is one of the most essential elements of life – and that level of communicating one’s needs and feelings can be easily diminished with even the slightest loss of proper hearing.
Yet, with all the other adjustments we are willing to make in our lives to achieve better overall health, there is still a stigma attached to hearing loss.
“Hearing loss has always been associated with aging, but in the last 10 years, we have realized it’s correlated to more common disorders such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and kidney disease,” explains Dr. Anna Nichols. Her Winston-Salem practice – Nichols Hearing & Audiology – has also been seeing patients at a much earlier age due to more frequent discussion involving dementia and cognitive decline being associated with untreated hearing difficulties.
“The key is prevention and early detection of hearing loss,” she adds. “So much new technology has also made it much easier to accept changes in hearing.”
While hearing loss makes it more difficult to interact with family, friends and business associates on a daily basis, it can also lead to isolation, depression and anxiety. Even a mild hearing loss can put you at risk, so settling for only hearing “half” of what’s going on around you can be detrimental. What you’re missing can be life changing!
Many patients have already noticed tension in business meetings (the embarrassment of asking a colleague to repeat a detail), anxiety in social situations and a tendency to withdraw from attending sporting events or other gatherings where you’ll be meeting new people. Allowing your hearing loss to keep you from learning a new hobby that might increase your mental capacity should also be considered, as maintaining mental sharpness is a must for overall longevity.
“There is a 30% increase in risk for depression and anxiety for those with even mild hearing loss, and as much as a 60% increase in risk for those with moderate to severe hearing loss,” says Anna. “Plus, we know these things alone are strongly linked to dementia and eventual overall health decline.”
Those are statistics that can’t be ignored! Without a doubt, support from friends and family is crucial.
“We always recommend a spouse attend an initial hearing evaluation with their partner,” Anna explains. “Hearing loss not only affects those with the condition, but also their family and, specifically, their spouse or significant other, who they may communicate with most of all. Frustration can occur on both sides, so we discuss coping strategies for both and explain the level of hearing loss in detail.”
Some daily tactics for success might include not trying to talk from room-to-room, tactile cues such as touching someone’s shoulder before beginning to speak, choosing restaurants with low background noise and even turning the TV off before beginning a conversation.
Focused on individualized care, the Nichols Hearing & Audiology team does a full evaluation, using technology to fit hearing aids that are specific to a patient’s needs. That includes using a microphone placed into the patient’s ears to calibrate and adjust the hearing aid, frequency by frequency. Anna shares they also have a four-week trial, so they can see a patient back during that time for adjustments – and ensuring the hearing aids were a successful match! While 48 million people in the United States have some amount of hearing loss, no two cases are identical. An evaluation at Nichols Hearing & Audiology includes gathering your case history, visualization of your external ear canal and a hearing test in the practice’s modern sound booth, using state-of-the-art equipment.
Eager to help you hear what you’re missing, broaden your horizons and nurture your personal relationships, at any age, Nichols Hearing & Audiology is located at 3640 Westgate Center Circle, Suite B in Winston-Salem, 336.842.3437 and online at HearWellLiveWellNC.com. Follow them on Facebook at Nichols Hearing & Audiology, and on Instagram @nicholshearingandaudiology.