Hearing loss is a serious problem affecting 422 million people worldwide, or 5% of the world’s total population. Hearing loss is also the world’s 3rd most chronic health condition, more prevalent than cancer or diabetes. Hearing loss can affect your total physical, emotional and mental health, but it is often overlooked or ignored because it is an invisible disability.
Know and advocate for you rights
The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) was enacted to protect any individual with a disability whether it is physical or mental and seriously limits one or more major life activities. When you examine all the ways that hearing loss can manifest to impede your health and lifestyle it is clear that hearing loss fits under this umbrella.
The ADA prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in employment, State and local government, public accommodations, commercial facilities, transportation, and more. However because hearing loss is a disability that often is undetectable to the eye it is important to know how and when to advocate for your rights, so you can get everything out of life that you deserve.
The Dangers of Untreated Hearing Loss
Hearing loss might be a listening issue but it affects most areas of your life if ignored. When you can’t hear it is hard to effectively communicate, degrading the quality of interactions with your family, friends and co-workers. Untreated hearing loss can progress to a strain in relationships, divorce and a decrease in earnings as well as lack of advancement in the workplace. This in turn contributes to depression, anxiety and social isolation, which can contribute to brain atrophy and increase your risk of developing dementia. To make matters worse untreated hearing loss contributes to a greater risk of accidents, falls and hospitalization, which is attributed to a lack of awareness of the environment. When it is difficult to hear the location, proximity and speed of approaching sound becomes difficult to decipher.
Talk about your hearing loss
There does not have to be stigma or shame about developing hearing loss. Because hearing loss is a common condition, the more you speak up and advocate for your rights the easier it will be for others to receive accommodations for this disability in the future. Many are reluctant to talk about their hearing loss as if it is a sign of weakness. However, the truth is that, if you are open and vocal about your disability you will be able to attain the accommodations so you can communicate easily among family, friends and work. Learn what accommodations are available to people with hearing loss and ask for those to be put in place everywhere you go.
Deal with your hearing loss
First thing to understand is that the longer you ignore your hearing loss the worse it’s side effects can progress. While there is no way to reverse most forms of hearing loss, hearing aids can amplify the sounds and tones that your ears struggle to hear. They can take some time to get used to, but it is important to master your hearing aids and learn how they can best work for you. With hearing aids you can start to rebuild your relationships at home and work and start to regain your sense of confidence. You will be able to be more independent and safely navigate the world, with the ability to respond to the obstacles presented to you daily. Your brain won’t have to struggle to hear sounds, reducing the risk of developing brain atrophy and dementia.
Create awareness around hearing loss
Just because hearing loss is invisible to many doesn’t mean you need to be quiet about your condition. Even with gathered research around the benefits of hearing loss, only 20% of those who could benefit from hearing loss actually use hearing aids. Each time you disclose your condition to another person you take another step towards undoing the stigma of hearing loss, which has kept people for years from dealing with their condition.
If you haven’t already, now is the best time to take control of your hearing health. Make an appointment to have you hearing checked and take control of your life today.