People with hearing loss in San Francisco are old. Hearing loss won’t affect any other aspect of their health, so what’s the big deal? Hearing loss is inevitable anyway. Hearing aids won’t help. Hearing aids will instantly cure their impairment.
Chances are, you’ve heard some of these arguments regarding hearing health and may believe them yourself—even when the information is contradictory. Sorting fact from fiction will help if you are faced with hearing loss yourself.
Popular Myths Concerning Hearing
Hearing loss affects 48 million people across the U.S. That means about one out of every five Bay Area residents experiences a hearing impairment to some degree. Despite the fact that hearing loss is the third most common physical condition in California, there is a great deal of misinformation surrounding it. The following myths are especially prevalent—and not true.
Hearing loss only affects older adults
Hearing naturally declines with age, but that doesn’t mean younger people are immune. The fact is, only about one-third of hearing loss patients are 65 or older. Hearing loss affects people of all ages, including children and young adults. Age is only one contributing factor; noise, disease, trauma and medications can all cause permanent damage to the sensory cells in the inner ear that enable us to hear.
Hearing loss is a nuisance but otherwise harmless
There is no doubt that hearing loss is annoying—but it’s more than just an irritant. Left untreated, it can lead to a wide range of physical, social and psychological health effects. People with hearing loss have a higher risk of isolation, loneliness, depression, dementia, diabetes, kidney disease and falls. Their overall odds of being hospitalized and dying early go up, while their salary goes down—hearing-impaired employees earn, on average, $12,000 less than their coworkers with normal hearing.
Hearing loss is inevitable
The misconception that hearing loss cannot be prevented is (mostly) false. While certain diseases or trauma can cause unexpected hearing impairment, the majority of patients in San Francisco lose their hearing due to noise exposure. There is plenty you can do to protect your hearing: wear earplugs anytime you are exposed to noisy activities, listen to music responsibly by keeping the volume set to no more than 60 percent of maximum and give your ears frequent breaks from noise. Regular hearing exams are helpful in detecting problems early.
Hearing loss will get better without treatment
When your hearing first starts to decline, it’s easy to convince yourself that the problem is temporary and will get better on its own. But this is very rarely the case; once the tiny hair cells in your cochlea are damaged, they can’t be repaired and won’t grow back. Even if the problem is correctable—impacted earwax, for instance—you can’t just ignore it and hope for the best! Most people will only experience better hearing by wearing hearing aids or using other assistive listening devices.
Hearing aids are ineffective
This might have been true 100 years ago, when people relied on crude “ear trumpets” to funnel sounds into their ear canals, but today’s hearing aids use digital technology and can truly improve your ability to hear. Issues that plagued users in the past, such as feedback and distortion, have largely disappeared. Features such as audio streaming and AI greatly improve convenience and sound quality and allow you to communicate more effectively. In fact, studies show that more than nine out of 10 people who wear hearing aids are satisfied with them.
Hearing loss isn’t just a California problem; it’s a global epidemic whose numbers are on the rise. Understanding the realities of the condition will lead to more people receiving the treatment they need. If you have any questions about hearing loss, please speak to an audiologist in San Francisco.