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If you experience hearing loss, you may be at higher risk for personal injury. The correlation between hearing loss and accidental injury was closely examined in a 2018 study. The research findings help us understand the ways in which hearing loss impacts people’s lives. Impaired hearing continues to be a growing public health concern that millions of people are navigating. People can experience impaired hearing at any age and the effects are wide-ranging.
Impact on Hearing and Communication
Hearing loss can be caused by a variety of factors including medical conditions, genetic history, and environmental circumstances. Impaired hearing decreases the ability to hear and process sound and speech. People often experience:
- Difficulty hearing distinct words and sentences
- Speech and sounds are muffled
- Difficulty following entire conversations
- Communication gaps caused by not hearing all of the information
This strained communication can result in listening fatigue, miscommunication, and social withdrawal. Additionally, new research suggests that hearing loss can increase the risk of accidental injury.
A recent study published in the March 2018 issue of JAMA Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery, explored the link between hearing loss and accidental injury. Researchers analyzed data on accidental injuries from the National Health Interview Survey between 2007 and 2015. The survey asked participants to rate their own hearing and if they have experienced any injuries in the past three months. The population was about 232 million people of which, 6.6 million suffered from accidental injuries every year. Their findings show that people who reported varying degrees of hearing loss, were more likely to experience injuries:
- Little trouble hearing: 60% more likely
- Moderate trouble hearing: 70% more likely
- Severe trouble hearing: 90% more likely
The increase of injury for people who experience hearing loss is conceivable considering that hearing is a major way we perceive danger, warning, and risk. In an interview with Reuters Health about this study, Dr. Neil Bhattacharyya, a researcher and professor at Harvard Medical School, remarked, “When people have hearing loss, they may be less likely to hear warning signs of, for example, a bicycle or motorcycle coming towards them. They may be less likely to hear a car horn or someone yelling at them to ‘duck’ if a baseball is headed their direction.”
The correlation between self-reported hearing loss and increased injury is significant. Accidental injuries can cause disabilities, substantially increase health care costs, and make mobility difficult. It is critical to address hearing loss and be proactive about your hearing health!
Addressing Hearing Loss
Addressing hearing loss is incredibly beneficial and can improve the quality of your life. Treatment can:
- Enhance Communication: hearing and processing speech and sound with greater ability drastically improves communication. People are able to hear clearly without requiring others to speak loudly and/or slowly, needing others to repeat themselves, move to a quieter space, reading mouths etc. This alleviates the stress, exhaustion, and anxiety related to engaging in conversations and being in social settings.
- Improve Health: Being able to hear and communicate with ease allows people to participate fully in social activities, gatherings, conversations etc. These environments which can be really tough to navigate with hearing loss, may be more comfortable and fun! Being socially active and engaging with others supports your mental and emotional health. This promotes happiness and general well-being.
The first step to address hearing loss is scheduling an appointment to have your hearing assessed. Hearing tests involve a simple, noninvasive, and painless process conducted by a hearing healthcare provider. You will be guided through sounds and speech as you indicate what you can hear. This test will measure the quietest sound you can hear and determine the degree and type of impairment you may be experiencing.
Hearing loss is treatable! There are several useful ways hearing loss is treated. The most common treatment is hearing aids. These small devices are used to help absorb, amplify, and process sound. There is a wide-range of hearing aids available that feature various technology and accessories designed to effectively treat hearing loss. Hearing aids can be highly customized to meet specific hearing needs. Hearing better can drastically improve one’s life and overall health.