Dave Fabry, Ph.D invited Starkey’s own Dr. Archelle Georgiou and Jamie Myers, Au.D. to our Sound Bites podcast to answer 10 of the most frequently asked questions we get about hearing, hearing loss and hearing aids.
One of the questions tackled by this panel of experts was, “If hearing loss doesn’t hurt, why should I treat it?” Below is their answer. It has been edited for length and clarity.
Dr. Archelle Georgiou — Well, Dave, you've been in this industry a lot longer than me, and I've learned a lot from you. And one thing that you've shared that has resonated is how Helen Keller once said that "vision loss separates us from things and hearing loss separates us from people."
Connecting with people is part of being human and it keeps us healthy. So not connecting with people because of hearing loss means that you are at risk for social isolation and depression. That can turn into loneliness and loneliness has been scientifically linked to premature death. Loneliness has actually been compared to the risk of smoking a half a pack of cigarettes per day. So that is a really important reason why you should address hearing loss even though it's not painful.
But for those who are thinking, “No, I'm fine. I'm not lonely. I'm not depressed,” there really is an important additional non-painful reason to address your hearing loss. And that's because hearing loss increases the risk of dementia. Even mild hearing loss doubles your risk of dementia. Moderate hearing loss triples it. And severe hearing loss makes it times five.
So, no, hearing loss doesn't hurt in the early stages, but the dementia that can follow can certainly hurt you and especially the people who love you. And I just can't emphasize enough, Dave, that hearing is part of your overall health. So yes, I'm going to repeat them because I think people don't know.
Social isolation, loneliness, depression, falls, injuries, dementia and cognitive impairment. And there's more. The most important thing is that hearing is related to all of these other medical conditions. I think that if more people were aware of that, rather than just thinking that their decreased hearing is causing a little bit of a communication problem that they can solve by turning the volume up, I think that more people would care, and less people would delay in addressing their hearing loss.
Jamie Myers, Au.D. — The recent Lancet Commission study on dementia showed that treating your hearing loss is the number one modifiable risk factor in mid age, which I believe 40 to 64 is what they defined as mid age. And that is the number one modifiable risk factor for preventing dementia. Number one, I mean I just wish it was on every billboard. It's such a seemingly simple treatment for us to prevent such a disease that can cause so many more problems for yourself, for your family.
Dave Fabry, Ph.D. — Well, and I've always said that if you want to get a Baby Boomer's attention, talk to them about cognitive decline. We want to keep our brain as sharp as we can throughout every sector and segment of our life.
To find a nearby hearing professional or audiologist who you can consult with about hearing loss, simply type your zip code in here and you’ll a generate a list of local providers who you can reach out to for help. To listen to the Starkey Sound Bites podcast, look for it wherever you get your podcasts.
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