September 19th – 25th is Deaf Awareness Week.

Some of you reading this can relate to hearing loss, however, for those of you who cannot, try the following to get a picture of what it is like to struggle with hearing loss. Place your hands over your ears and listen to what is around you. Imagine what life would be like if this was an everyday struggle. Consider being in the dining room, where everyone is talking and you hear lots of noises, and you find yourself struggling to understand, pretend to hear jokes by laughing along, and at the end of the day you are experiencing a throbbing headache. The goal of this article is not to the invite pity or poor me mantra, but instead, to bring awareness of how hearing greatly affects our health and wellbeing.

One in six adults experiences some degree of hearing loss.

Hearing loss can happen in many ways, through over exposure to loud sounds, ear wax in the ear, head trauma, viruses, inner ear infections, allergies, tumors, fluid in the ear, and malformation or failure of the ear structure, etc. Hearing loss can be sudden or gradual. Ask yourself, are you always turning up the volume on the TV or radio? Do you tend to avoid social events because you are afraid you will not understand people? Are you having a hard time on the phone or do you ask people to repeat themselves often? If you answered yes to any of the previous questions or have any doubt about whether your hearing has change, contact your local audiologist and get a hearing test!

What is so important about having your ears checked? Studies show that hearing loss raises the risk of social isolation, depression, and mental decline which can possibly lead to Alzheimer’s. Because your brain plays a major role in understanding speech, it has to work harder when hearing loss occurs. Other areas of your brain begin to atrophy because it is working so hard to listen to sounds in your environment.

If you are a candidate for hearing aids, it the best investment you can make to improve your quality of life. Just like a balanced diet, exercising, and regular wellness checks keep you healthy, so does taking care of your hearing. Taking care of your ears does take some work when you get new hearing aids; you begin to learn how the world sounds around you. For many, this can be overwhelming because you get used to hearing the world in low volume.However, work with your audiologist, talk to a few people you know who have hearing trouble for support — you will be glad you are taking care of your ears!