Hearing loss is everywhere these days. If you aren’t affected, there’s a very good chance that someone close to you is. In fact, according to the National Institutes of Health:
- Approximately 15% of American adults (37.5 million) aged 18 and over report some trouble hearing.
- About 28.8 million U.S. adults could benefit from using hearing aids.
- Among adults aged 70 and older with hearing loss who could benefit from hearing aids, fewer than 30 percent has ever used them. Of adults aged 20 to 69, approximately 16 percent who could benefit from wearing hearing aids have ever used them.
The seriousness of hearing loss, especially untreated hearing loss, is becoming more and more apparent as research continues to link it to secondary issues such as cognitive decline, anxiety and depression.
It may sound bleak, but the truth is, there are more options for auditory rehabilitation available than ever before.
Hearing aids and beyond
When we think of treating hearing loss, the first option that comes to mind is usually hearing aids. But with rapidly advancing technologies, not only are hearing aids becoming smarter and more effective than in the past, they are also becoming just one of several options.
- Today’s hearing aids – Hearing aid companies are taking notice of the statistics and taking steps to make devices more user-friendly, comfortable and stylish to increase use. There are numerous options to choose from that are designed to be powerful, discreet and make hearing more natural than previous models. There are now hearing aids available that are compatible with smartphones, ones that utilize apps for programming, those that detect brain waves to improve with every use, “smart” hearing aids that reduce background noise and even those that come in a variety of fun colors and designs. There are also hearing aid accessories available to help personalize the devices if you choose.
- Active Middle Ear Implants – In some cases, a hearing aid is not the best option and a hearing healthcare professional may suggest an active middle ear implant. This device is made up of two primary parts, the processor on the outside and the actuator internally. The processor turns sound into an electrical signal that is sent to the actuator inserted in the middle ear.
- Cochlear Implants – Like Active Middle Ear Implants, cochlear implants have become a much more common choice when hearing aids are not an option. These devices pick up sound with the microphone in the device like a hearing aid, but then send signals directly to the auditory nerve. A sense of sound is created. A cochlear implant includes an external piece attached behind the ear, and an inner piece placed surgically beneath the skin. In the past, cochlear implants have only been an option for a few, but as the technology, process and experts’ understanding have improved, that number has expanded including those of all ages, with varying degrees of hearing loss, even those with single-sided deafness.
Untreated hearing loss has now been recognized as a contributing factor to many serious health conditions. It’s time to set aside outdated beliefs about hearing loss and embrace treatment options like these to take control of hearing health.
If you have questions about hearing loss, hearing aids, or other treatment options that may work for you, contact our office.