If you lived with diabetes for seven years without a diagnosis, can you imagine what that raging blood sugar would do to your health?
By year seven, your symptoms would probably be so bad you’d no longer be able to ignore them. You’d probably end up in the hospital long before that.
There’s also another condition that shouldn’t be ignored. But, despite the effects of this condition and its early warning signs, it takes on average seven years before a person does anything about it. It does a lot of damage, and can rob people of their quality of life and happiness. It increases risks of serious falls, depression, loneliness, cognitive problems, high blood pressure, and disability. It also affects interpersonal relationships, sometimes tense misunderstandings and miscommunication.
We’re talking about progressive hearing loss. By the time seven years from the first warning signs have passed, a lot of damage has been done that can’t be reversed.
If you don’t want to be part of the seven-year average and neglect when to see a hearing healthcare provider, read on.
Why Does It Take So Long to Recognize Hearing Loss?
Sensorineural hearing loss, the kind many of us develop as we age, is a slowly progressing condition. Because it doesn’t happen overnight, you’re more likely to ignore it in the beginning and compensate for it without even realizing it.
You might make excuses like restaurants are just too loud these days, your children are mumblers, or the TV dialogue is too quiet compared to the musical score.
But the truth is your hearing is getting worse by the day. Left untreated, your risks of effects I listed in the opening increase.
Would You Recognize These Early Signs of Hearing Loss?
In the early stages, you can still hear and figure some things out. But you’re noticing some small changes like:
- Having to strain to listen if there’s background noise
- Misunderstanding what people say. Words like Shoe, Coo, and Poo may all sound the same, and you have to ask someone to repeat themselves. Try it with a friend. Have them say: Shore, Core, Pore or Sheep, Keep, Peep in sentences to see if you can distinguish them.
- You struggle with higher-pitched voices like those of children, crickets, birds, and some women.
- You can no longer hear people whispering conversations from the other room
- You frequently experience tinnitus (ringing of the ears)
When to See a Hearing Healthcare Provider
There is no cure for sensorineural hearing loss, the kind usually caused by exposure to loud noises. But early intervention can help you in several ways.
An audiologist like myself can help you identify current activities that may be speeding up your hearing loss, so you keep your hearing longer. Custom hearing protection may help.
I can help you explore solutions like Bluetooth hearing aids that connect directly to your phone and other devices to bring the sound to you.
And together, we can reduce your risk of several quality of life destroyers like depression, cognitive decline, and relationship problems related to misunderstanding. For example, studies show a clear link between untreated hearing loss and increased risk and acceleration of dementia. But, in those who see a hearing doctor and receive treatment early, the link disappears.
If you feel your seven-year clock is already ticking, do you know when to see a hearing healthcare provider? Why not soon? Call my office to schedule a consultation now.