The profound and complicated connections between our minds and bodies so often work to our advantage, especially when it comes to health. How often have you been told to trust your intuition when you know that something isn’t right, even if your doctor assures you there’s nothing to worry about? The flipside is that our minds are very good at getting in the way of attunement to our bodies, particularly in the form of procrastination—waiting too long to seek medical attention for illness or physical problems is something nearly everyone has done. Nonetheless, as with most medical issues, it is important not to ignore changes to your hearing, since a lot can be done to prevent hearing loss from progressing and seriously impacting your well-being. Once you know what to expect, the hearing loss journey need not be a long one.
People wait an average of seven years to seek help after first noticing hearing loss. Procrastination and denial are frequent culprits in this lengthy hearing loss journey, but so is the stigma that previously adhered to hearing loss and the hearing assistive devices that go with it. But there are two important arguments for not hesitating to speak to your doctor and get your hearing tested when any hearing loss first comes to your attention: 1) hearing loss can progress more quickly without timely attention; and 2) hearing-assistive devices have become both better and less conspicuous.
Why Waiting Could be Harmful
Since many of us have not thought much about the mechanics of our hearing since we had it tested in Kindergarten, it is frequently the case that people who have noticed some hearing loss don’t know where to start in addressing it. Delaying assessment of and treatment for hearing loss is dangerous, however, since the brain can forget how to process aural information to a degree, and the parts of the brain that are used in hearing actually shrink over time. The old “use it or lose it” adage is quite literally true when it comes to brains—if parts of it go unused, they get assigned to other jobs.
The good news is that getting your hearing checked is easy. Your family doctor will refer you to an audiologist who will conduct comprehensive hearing tests that zero in on the particular causes and effects of your hearing loss, as well as introduce you to the appropriate treatments and hearing assistive devices.
How Hearing Assistance Has Changed
One reason that people with hearing loss delay addressing it is that they dread the stigma of the big and often not-all-that-helpful hearing aids they saw their grandfathers struggle with. Due to our twenty-first-century listening habits, hearing loss has become more common and at younger ages, and hearing-assistive devices have become better suited to busy and professional lifestyles. Not only are hearing aids generally smaller, but smartphone technology has resulted in a variety of tools and apps that help to process audio information for easier processing by those with hearing loss. Noopl, of course, is a small device that plugs into your phone and works with AirPods Pro to directionally focus on individual voices and help cut through noise in loud environments. It’s proven to be a great tool for those who are not yet ready for hearing aids, as well as a helpful layer of extra hearing assistance for those who already use MFi (Made for iPhone) hearing aids.
If you suspect your hearing isn’t what it used to be, don’t just write it off as your mind playing tricks on you. Addressing it soon and finding the right tools to mitigate its effects on your life will ensure that you stay in the conversation at work and with loved ones.