It can be easy to overlook signs that point to a decline in your hearing and instead blame loud background noise or someone for mumbling. But although you might think your hearing is perfect, compared to someone else, you might only be getting half the story.
One in six Australians are affected by hearing loss, and while many of us are aware of slight decline we don’t believe it to be an urgent matter and put off doing anything about it. However, the longer you wait before treating hearing loss, the harder you’re making it for yourself to fix the problem.
According to audiologist Elaine Saunders, hearing is a “use it or lose it sense”. Dr Saunders explains that auditory deprivation occurs when nothing is done to stimulate the nerves in the hearing mechanism. This is the reason some people find the transition to a hearing aid difficult at first.
Dr Saunders says, “The longer people wait to get hearing aids the longer it takes to adjust to them. It can take months for the brain to ‘learn’ how to hear again.”
When your brain receives less audio stimulation from your ears and your hearing pathways don’t get exercised, you experience auditory deprivation and your hearing weakens. This is why you should seek help as soon as you notice an issue.
“Moreover, research shows that waiting until your hearing gets worse before seeking help could play a role in cognitive decline,” says Dr Saunders.
A slow decline in hearing could mean you don’t necessarily notice a huge difference in your hearing ability. Here’s what you need to look for:
UK charity Action on Hearing has developed this quick and easy hearing test that can tell you in minutes whether you have a problem with your hearing. Take the test here.