Staying Connected with Healthy Hearing

By on January 28, 2020

For many reasons, the quality of our hearing has a direct impact on our overall health. Obviously, being able to hear well allows us to communicate and sense danger. But just as important, it enables us to stay connected to the people and things we enjoy in life.

It’s easy to take our senses for granted; however, as we age the chances of developing hearing loss increase. Today, nearly one in two people over the age of 50 have difficulty understanding what other people are saying in noisy environments.

Diminished hearing can be gradual and often it’s family, friends, and co-workers who are the first to notice. Surprisingly, many of us wait seven to 10 years before even acknowledging that we’re having trouble hearing. But by ignoring it and putting off a comprehensive hearing test, we may actually be contributing to the aging process.

Recent research from Johns Hopkins reveals that hearing loss impacts brain function and is linked to walking problems, falls, and even dementia.

Additionally, when we can’t hear well, we tend to retreat from social interaction because it requires so much energy to understand the conversation. Over time, that can lead to isolation and loneliness, both of which put us at higher risk for a variety of physical and mental conditions.

While hearing loss can be caused by many things, it can be as simple as wax blockage. That’s why it is important to tell your healthcare provider if you are having trouble hearing. They will check your ears and remove the wax if it is the cause, or they may refer you to a hearing professional.

“Making an appointment with a hearing professional is an important first step because we’re able to perform a comprehensive exam and determine what is going on in the ear,“ says Dr. Krista Follmer, an audiologist at Outer Banks Ear Nose & Throat. “Everyone’s ears are different, as is their hearing loss, so effective treatment uses an individualized approach.”

While many types of hearing loss can’t be reversed, steps can be taken to improve it, including professional fitting and upkeep of hearing devices, possible medical intervention, and even strategies and tips for everyday engagement with others.

Dr. Follmer advises, “The earlier a person acknowledges a change in the quality of their hearing and contacts a health professional, the sooner something can be done to improve it so that they can return to the activities and connections that bring them joy.”


Recognizing the Signs & Symptoms of Hearing Loss

Because hearing loss can be gradual, it’s important to recognize the typical signs and symptoms. They are usually a signal that it’s time to have your hearing checked.

  1. Do you have trouble keeping up with conversations in a busy office or noisy restaurant?
  2. Do you believe others are mumbling and find that you have to ask them to repeat things?
  3. Do others complain that you have the volume turned up too loud on the television or radio?
  4. Is it hard to understand people over the telephone? Do you have to ask them to speak up?
  5. Have friends and relatives mentioned that you don’t answer the door or their phone calls?
  6. Do you have difficulty hearing the sounds of birds singing or rain falling?


Sponsored by the Outer Banks Hospital

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