Nearly one in five individuals over the age of twelve in the United States suffers from hearing loss in one or both ears. Hearing loss is a common ailment among all age groups. The number of adults that develop hearing insufficiency rises with age. The percentage of adults with hearing disabilities rises from 2% of individuals between the ages of 20 to 69 to a staggering 50% of those over the age of 75. Another common ailment connected to increases in hearing loss is diabetes.
Diabetes and Hearing Loss
Individuals with diabetes are two times more likely to suffer hearing loss. The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association notes a link between type II diabetes and impaired hearing. With type II diabetes the body fails to produce enough insulin to normalize blood sugar levels. Higher than normal blood sugar levels cause chemical changes that impede the nervous system’s ability to send audio signals to the brain.
Long-Term Hearing Deficiency and Dementia
Leaving a hearing loss untreated increases an individual’s risk of developing dementia. Individuals with severe loss are five times more likely to suffer from dementia. Even mild or moderate hearing disabilities increase an individual’s risk of developing dementia.
Signs of a Developing Hearing Problem
- Having to frequently ask others to repeat what they say.
- Conversations that include more than 2 people become more difficult to keep up with.
- Thinking that others are constantly mumbling.
- Restaurants and other noisy environments causing hearing problems.
- Having a hard time understanding the voices of women and children.
- Turning the television and radio up to a level that is uncomfortable for others.
Getting a audiological assessment, or hearing screening, is important to diagnose and treat hearing problems. A comprehensive hearing screening includes the following:
- An Otoscopy is a visual examination of the ear canal and eardrum.
- Pure Tone Measures determine an individual’s audible thresholds.
- Speech Testing measures an individual’s ability to correctly recognize speech.
- Tympanometry is the mobility of the eardrum and condition of the middle ear.
- Treatment options are discussed based on test findings.