A hearing aid is a hearing aid, right? While it would seem commonsensical to think that any old hearing aid should help someone with hearing loss better hear their surroundings, it turns out that not all hearing aids work equally well for all people. Even the most expensive, fanciest hearing aids that are properly fitted for an individual can require multiple rounds of adjustments and modifications to work perfectly on any given person.
If this is the case, many of us ask if it is even worth the time, money, and effort spent seeing hearing healthcare professionals and getting outfitted with a pair of hearing aids for them to not function as well as they could. What’s the point of spending all that money for a pair of hearing aids that aren’t guaranteed to be covered by insurance just for them to sit unused on your bedside table when they don’t work?
Although this might seem like logical reasoning, the truth of the matter is that untreated hearing loss can be far worse for you in the long run than a series of hearing healthcare appointments and some large medical bills. While the financial cost of hearing aids is certainly nothing to scoff at, the long-term consequences of untreated loss should be encouragement enough to at least try them out.
The Negative Consequences Of Untreated Hearing Loss
Whether your hearing loss is due to long-term noise damage, exposure to a single, loud noise, or even a traumatic event, the consequences may be equally severe. Not only is hearing loss a major inconvenience, it is actually a serious health hazard.
For example, people with hearing loss are three times more likely to suffer from a severe fall. This may be because people with hearing loss aren’t as aware of their surroundings, which increases their risk for tripping and falling. Issues in the inner ear may also affect one’s balance, also leading to more falls.
Beyond a simple fall, however, untreated hearing loss is also linked to increased risk of social isolation, dementia, and depression. These conditions may not seem like immediate life threats, but they can have a serious impact on one’s quality of life.
If that wasn’t bad enough, people with untreated hearing loss are also more likely to experience more frequent and longer hospitalizations. They’re also more likely to be readmitted to a hospital for a prior condition and are more likely to have to visit an emergency room than people with managed hearing loss.
The Path Forward
With all of the evidence demonstrating the negative consequences of untreated hearing loss, how do we move forward knowing that hearing aids are expensive and don’t work perfectly for everyone right off the bat? While hearing aids are known to be a great treatment for many types of hearing loss, many people may not seek them out because of their high cost and time investment.
The answer? Patience. These days, we’re too accustomed to having information at our fingertips. We’re able to get the answer to a million different questions with just a few keyboard clicks, which means we now expect quick, simple solutions to all of our problems.
Unfortunately, in the world of hearing healthcare, these unrealistic expectations are part of the problem. Once someone takes the first step and schedules a hearing test with a hearing healthcare professional, their path to hearing loss treatment has just begun. Anyone expecting to walk out of a hearing test with a quick fix to their hearing loss is sure to be disappointed.
Rather, we need to understand that seeking out hearing loss treatment and getting a pair of hearing aids isn’t like putting chains on your car tires in deep snow. You won’t immediately gain traction and experience the benefits of your actions. Hearing aids, unlike tire chains, take time to get used to and often require adjustments and modifications before they work perfectly. It’s worth it, though, because hearing aids can help you live the life you love.