"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

For many, the stigma of hearing loss is problematic; Here's what may also help

February 21, 2024 – Glasses are all over the place. Some more people wear them than not 62% of Americans wear prescription glasses in all different shapes and styles. That doesn't even bear in mind the 45 million of us who wear contact lenses.

However, the identical can’t be said for hearing aids. Only 1 of 6 People with hearing loss wear them, and most of the people who notice hearing loss wait nearly a decade to hunt help.

Experts say resistance to treatment is deeply rooted in stigma. We'“We are more likely to ignore hearing loss because it is related to age and the bulky hearing aids our grandparents wore when we were young,” he said Melanie Hecker, AuD, an audiologist in Bellevue, WA. People too hold Hearing loss as a standard a part of Aging, And even in the event that they do understand it, they’re less prone to seek help.

Not to say, hearing loss slowly increases over time, Hecker says, making people unsure whether or not they also have a problem.

If I were in a room and turned off the lights, you would notice. But if I use the dimmer very, very slowly, it can take a while before you notice that the room is getting dark,” Hecker said. The same goes for hearing loss.”

The'This is one reason hearing loss is commonly noticed by a spouse or friend quite than the person themselves. Your partner might even see this'“I struggled with hearing long before,” she said.

But whatever the explanation for delaying treatment, hearing loss is about way more than inconvenience and general frustration. Those who delay treatment are putting themselves in danger for some preventable health problems, in response to one Article published within the magazine last month The lancet for healthy longevity.

The study found that hearing aid use was related to a 24% lower risk of death in comparison with individuals who didn’t wear hearing aids. The cause is unclear, but researchers have pointed to some potential triggers, including the isolation of individuals with hearing impairments, which might result in loneliness, anxiety, depression and associated poor health.

Hearing aid wearers may be more concerned about their health typically and usually tend to see a physician about health concerns quite than delay treatment. They may have more resources and higher access to health care, the study writer said Janet S. Choi, MD, an otologist and neurotologist on the Keck School of Medicine and assistant professor of clinical otolaryngology-head and neck surgery on the Keck School of Medicine of USC. Hearing aids are sometimes not covered by insurance, and even then they’re only partially covered.

Another hypothesis, Choi said, is scarier: that hearing loss directly damages the brain and results in a decline in considering ability. “Restoring auditory input may prevent some of the changes in brain structure caused by hearing loss,” she said.

Brain scans show that hearing loss results in brain atrophy, or brain loss, which ends up in dementia. New research shows that hearing loss is definitely the largest think about dementia risk. People with poor hearing experience brain changes more quickly as they age than people without hearing loss.

In people who find themselves hard of hearing, the ear continuously sends garbled messages because of damage to the cochlea, the cochlea-shaped a part of the inner ear whose job is to send vibration signals to the brain, he said Frank Lin, MD, PhD, director of the Cochlear Center for Hearing and Public Health on the Bloomberg School of Public Health.

“Hearing loss increases cognitive load, so the brain has to allocate more resources to hearing, and the reallocation of resources comes at the expense of other parts of the brain,” he said. This causes brain damage, which might result in dementia.

Also, individuals with hearing loss, who could also be vulnerable to dementia and Alzheimer's, may exit less often because of the lack to listen to, limiting stimulation from social activities. And less engagement results in a faster decline in considering skills.

Still, the silver lining, Lin said, is that hearing loss will be improved, and in actual fact, some recent developments in the sector are making yesterday's clunky hearing aids a thing of the past. Previously, regulation of the market and who could make hearing aids resulted in an absence of latest technology and high costs. However, recent laws allow for more cost-effective over-the-counter hearing aids.

Companies like Bose, Sony and HP are stepping into the sport, developing hearing aids that mimic wireless earbuds and will be charged like a smartphone. “As these consumer technology companies enter the market, it will drive the innovation and affordability the industry needs,” Lin said.

There are also other unconventional approaches to improving hearing loss. For example, EssilorLuxottica, the corporate that features Ray-Ban, Oakley, Transitions, LensCrafters and plenty of others, has developed trendy prototype glasses that act as hearing aids and have a speaker built into the temple portion of the lens so you’ll be able to hear whoever you might be consider in a conversation. For example, in the event you are in a busy restaurant and have difficulty hearing, use these glasses to extend the quantity without anyone around you noticing the device.

Researchers are also in search of ways to completely restore hearing loss. In an article published last month in The lancet, Zheng Yi Chen, MDand his team used gene therapy with a single shot within the cochlea to revive hearing in five children born with a rare genetic disorder that causes deafness.

This form of hearing loss is rare and never the identical because the way more common age-related hearing loss, but Chen is working on it too. He said that hair cells within the inner ear don’t regenerate – unlike skin cells, for instance – and that almost all people experience damage to hair cells over the course of their lives. This is why hearing loss is so common. But his recent research uses gene therapy Regenerate hair cells in mouse models. Although translation to humans continues to be a good distance off, it’s exciting news that would change the way in which we treat individuals with hearing loss in the long run.

“We're not there yet, but for the first time we can clearly see what problem we're trying to solve and what needs to be done to solve it,” Chen said.