Chances are, you will be the last to know. Most hearing loss happens so gradually that you may not notice it until it becomes a big problem.
The people around you will notice it first. You may have to ask people to repeat themselves, especially if there is any background noise. You may make mistakes and need to turn up the T V louder than before. You may fail to hear the doorbell, the telephone and/or warning signals.
As the hearing loss worsens, you may find yourself straining to hear conversations and becoming tired from the effort required to listen. Over time, you may find yourself avoiding social situations and losing interest in activities that you once enjoyed.
Approximately 500 million people worldwide suffer from hearing loss. Although nearly 20 % of persons between the ages of 65 and 74 have a significant hearing loss, it may surprise you to learn that the population of hearing-impaired people is getting younger and younger, largely due to excessive noise exposure. A recent survey by the Better Hearing Institute in the US found that 14.6 percent of baby boomers (ages 41 – 59) have a hearing problem and 7.4 percent of Generation Xers (ages 29 – 40) already have hearing loss.
Hearing loss has been called the invisible handicap yet the impact on quality of life can be profound. A study by the NCOA (National Council on Aging) in the US revealed the following: Hearing impaired persons with untreated hearing loss report increased feelings of depression and anxiety, increased paranoia and social phobias, more anger and frustration, increased introversion and feelings of self criticism. They also report decreased overall health, decreased social activity, and even decreased earning power.
Fortunately, the situation can be greatly improved for most people with hearing loss. The same study revealed that persons with treated hearing loss (through hearing aids and/or medical treatment) report better family relationships, higher self-esteem, improved mental health, greater feelings of independence and security, better overall health and increased social activity.