If you’re concerned that you may be losing your hearing, tackling the problem early can improve both your hearing and your quality of life, including your relationships.
People who are fitted with hearing aids early are likely to get more benefit from them than those who put up with hearing loss for years before seeking help.
Despite the fact that deafness can be socially isolating, it can take up to 15 years for people who clearly have hearing loss to get tested. And 4 million people in the UK have undiagnosed hearing loss, according to the UK charity Action on Hearing Loss.
A key reason for those long years in denial about deafness is the stigma of hearing loss.
Losing your hearing is associated with getting old and hearing aids can be viewed negatively by people who aren’t aware of more recent advances in technology and design. If you have hearing loss, you may feel cut off from the world, and this can lead to depression. Your confidence can also be eroded, causing you to avoid social contact.
Delaying diagnosis can also affect your relationships with family and friends. An Action on Hearing Loss survey of couples where one partner had hearing loss found that it can be very frustrating for partners. Partners of people with hearing loss also commonly complain of loneliness, feeling isolated, missing out on companionship and a poor social life because previous social activities are curtailed.
Ignoring the problem of hearing loss won’t make it go away. And you could be missing out on devices that could help you hear better and improve your quality of life.
There is a huge amount of help available if you are diagnosed including digital hearing aids which are much smaller and easier to control than previous versions. There are also gadgets to improve your life including extra-loud landlines and mobile phones, amplifiers and flashing doorbells, sonic boom and vibrating alarm clocks, and vibrating watches.
It’s better to start wearing hearing aids sooner rather than later. This is because getting used to amplified sound is harder if you’ve already got used to a quieter world, which means your hearing aid will be less effective.
You’re not alone. One person in seven in the UK is deaf or has hearing loss. That’s an estimated 9 million people in the UK. So, if you think you’re losing your hearing, take a free hearing test. Your GP can then refer you, if necessary, for further tests and advice.
There are lots of ways to get a quick free hearing test and it may be that the only problem is a build-up of wax which can be sorted easily. But you won’t know until you get tested so don’t leave it any longer if you have the slightest concern.