Everyone knows that hearing loss is a common side effect of aging. Unfortunately, just because it's incredibly prevalent, that doesn't mean it isn't a serious problem. And if you look at the latest figures, the scope of the problem might actually be getting bigger, as according to recent projections an estimated 44 million adults will suffer from some degree of hearing loss by the year 2020. That's roughly 15% of the adult population, and if the trends continue that number will climb to more than 23% by the year 2060.
The Reason Behind the Increase
The rise in hearing loss among adults actually has two main drivers. For starters, people are simply living longer. So as more and more Americans live well into their 80s and 90s, the rate of hearing loss is logically going to increase. In fact, according to the numbers, 55% of people suffering from hearing loss will be 70 or older in the year 2020. By 2060, that number will jump to a staggering 67%.
Another main cause of hearing impairment is noise-induced hearing loss. As Millennials use earbuds to interact with their phones, tablets and music players, they're assaulting their ears with a damaging amount of noise. According the experts, the proliferation of earbud and headphone usage has caused a sudden, alarming spike in the rate of hearing loss among the under 30 crowd, and those numbers aren't expected to drop anytime soon.
The Negative Effects
When most of us think about the effects of hearing loss, we tend to think of the most obvious ones. Namely, hearing loss limits your ability to take in sound information and interact with the world around you. But in many ways, that's just the tip of the iceberg. Over the years, studies have shown that people with hearing loss also exhibit a higher rate of depression and anxiety, and they tend to be more socially isolated.
As if all of that isn't bad enough, hearing loss has also been closely linked to mental decline. In general, sound information stimulates the brain, and once that goes away, the brain can actually start to atrophy. As a result, hearing loss sufferers also tend to suffer from dementia, memory loss and overall cognitive impairment.
Unfortunately for senior citizens, who constitute a vast majority of hearing loss sufferers, there are no easy solutions. Currently, Medicare doesn't cover most expenses related to hearing loss detection and treatment, and as a result most patients have to pay out-of-pocket. Despite this drawback, the best way to deal with hearing loss is with early intervention. So if you suspect that your hearing ability is diminishing, make an appointment with an audiologist in your area.
If you or someone you know would like to learn more about hearing loss and how to treat it, please feel free to schedule a consultation or contact one of our representatives today!