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Keep Hearing, Stay Happy: Hearing Loss Linked to Depression

by Alexandra Kilpatrick

Whether it’s linked to aging or noise-induced, hearing loss can cause isolation, depression and frustrations for anyone experiencing it.

“I think hearing is an important part of our well-being and losing your hearing shouldn’t be something people just accept as a natural result of aging,” Dr. Stefanie Wolf, a clinical audiologist at Audiology at Nassau County, explained to Medical Daily. “I’m fulfilled by my job because it’s like turning a light on for some people and changing their lives. I help people by re-arming them with the tools they need to communicate.”

About one in three people have hearing loss by the time they reach the age of 65. While most of Wolf’s patients are 65 years and older, she also treats people with congenital hearing loss, a condition present at birth caused by in-utero or hereditary factors.

Wolf also commented that she has seen younger and younger patients coming in for hearing loss assessments. She believes this influx of younger patients is caused by a combination of awareness and noise-induced hearing loss from new technologies like ear bud headphones.

Parents are increasingly concerned with the effect of ear buds on their children’s hearing, especially when they can hear the music through the headphones themselves. Wolf recommends avoiding the battle with background noise. For example, during a subway ride, it’s very difficult to block out background noise with your own music unless you crank up the output. Wolf instead advises against listening to music on the subway or investing in noise-cancelling headphones that both protect your ears from the high music volume and keep out background noise.

“As untreated hearing loss progresses, your job performance decreases and there’s a known compensation decrease that comes with it,” Wolf told Medical Daily. “A big problem is they don’t want to appear stupid and they’ll just nod their head. It’s sad to think of all the things they’re missing throughout the day by faking it.”

According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, about 20 percent of adults experience hearing loss in the United States and another 48 percent report some degree of hearing damage. The condition tends to cause isolation when a person can’t hear their surroundings and sometimes depression due to a gradual decrease in daily personal interactions. While there are more new hearing aids every day, the wealth of information often deters hearing loss sufferers from seeking treatment.

“We have to educate people with information but not too much or it will overwhelm them,” Dr. Lori Trentacoste, an audiologist and owner of Island Better Hearing, Inc., told Medical Daily. Trentacoste performs hearing tests on children, works as a hearing loss consultant at schools and manages and teaches hearing loss equipment use for inside the classroom.

“A vast majority of people have emotional and professional ramifications from untreated hearing loss. In children, untreated hearing loss will cause brains to develop less, their education will suffer and parents and teachers might think they have selective hearing.”

Two to three children in 1,000 are deaf or hard of hearing, but Trentacoste has seen an improvement in hearing loss technology. While children used to be separated into special schools or misdiagnosed with attention deficit disorder, there are now early intervention systems in place. Children are checked for congenital hearing loss at infancy and mainstreaming techniques acclimate students with hearing loss into the classroom with others.

“I think we need to get doctors on board and insurance companies should be asking a few key questions,” Trentacoste told Medical Daily. “Most patients don’t know hearing tests are covered and their decision to get one often comes down to cost. Hearing loss shouldn’t be something that stops you when you age or hold a child back from learning.”

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!

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