Hearing Australia has urged more people to put their hearing health to the test in 2021.
Taking care of hearing health can have wide-ranging benefits, helping people to stay active and involved in the world around them.
Everyone can help keep hearing health on the agenda by asking the people in their lives aged 55 and over, "How's your hearing?" - it's three simple words that could change someone's life.
"With hearing loss, you end up missing out on so much, even when you're just having a normal conversation with your wife or kids," Hearing Australia client Troy Ryan said. "Do yourself and your family a favour by getting tested and getting hearing help early."
According to the digital health company Healthshare, there are several types of hearing loss, which all impact our ability to interact with those around us. When the brain cannot process sound, this is known as an auditory processing disorder, making understanding speech and working out where sounds are coming from difficult.
Conductive hearing loss stems from a problem with the outer or middle ear. Sound cannot pass through to the inner ear due to an ear infection, a punctured eardrum, fluid in the ear or ear wax. These conditions are generally able to be treated.
When the cochlea or auditory nerve are damaged or malfunction, this is known as sensorineural hearing loss. The electrical information is not being accurately sent on to the brain.
People with hearing loss can also have mixed hearing loss, including conductive and sensorineural hearing loss.
Hearing loss has a real and measurable effect on people's quality of living, Hearing Australia states.
Research from across the world has shown how critical being able to hear and communicate is to a person's physical and mental wellbeing.
In the over 55 age group, hearing loss has been shown to have dramatic impacts on personal relationships, resulting in a loss of communication and intimacy and disengagement in social situations.
A loss of spontaneity was listed as one of the top complaints of both people with a hearing impairment and their close partners. Instant observations, small talk in everyday interactions and even those three little words - "I love you" - became problematic.
Healthshare states one in six Australians experience hearing loss, which can happen at any age, and it is vital to know the symptoms:
- trouble hearing in noisy places
- problems hearing conversations and understanding people's speech
- not understanding people unless they are facing you, or asking people to repeat themselves
- hearing sounds as muffled
- needing to have the TV up loud
- often missing your phone or the doorbell
- hearing a constant buzzing or ringing
- finding that loud noises cause you more discomfort than before
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you should see your doctor.