Woman pulling a Jenga block out as a metaphor for how ignoring mild hearing loss can become a larger issue.

Today, people are healthcare consumers not just patients, so they take a special interest in their own health management. Age-related chronic illnesses like type 2 diabetes or cardiovascular disease are no longer considered a regular part of aging, in part, because of that shift in thinking. So what about hearing loss? Is mild hearing loss something to worry about like high blood pressure or diabetes? What is mild hearing loss exactly and is it really a problem?

What is Mild Hearing Loss?

Hearing loss is one of those things that people tend to ignore until it gets worse, but is that the right attitude? When it comes to your hearing, how bad does it have to get before you stand up and take notice? For that matter, is there anything you can do to prevent some hearing decline? Like most things, the lifestyle you lead has an impact on hearing. It’s a decline that starts slow and builds, too.

Mild hearing loss is defined as a loss of sound recognition 26 to 45 decibelsas measured on a professional hearing assessment tool called an audiogram. For many, this is how age-related hearing loss it begins. An audiogram is a graph that marks a patient’s audible threshold as it relates to certain sounds levels. A person at the beginning stage of hearing decline might experience mumbled-sounding conversations every once in awhile. Almost like the ear becomes blocked occasionally, so the sound is dampened.

Why Mild Hearing Loss Matters?

The mild hearing loss does affect your life even if you don’t know it. During conversations, hard sounds become softer or disappear completely. When your boss tells you there is an office meeting at five o’clock, it sounds like:

There i an oice meeing at ive o’oo

Specific words may seem mumbled, so you begin mumbling “what” back more than you care to admit. That trend will wear on just about everyone’s nerves eventually. Even a slight decline in your hearing can interfere with your fun. Maybe you start misunderstanding what the characters on your favorite TV show say and bet frustrated as you lose track of what going on in the story.

You’ll start looking for ways to fill in the blanks caused by your hearing loss, like putting on headphones or using earbuds. Those quick fixes only add to your problem, though. The drastic increase in sound waves as they enter the ear canal may damage the delicate mechanisms within adding to your hearing loss.

Hearing Loss and Your Sense of Self

As you become more conscious of your hearing problems, you can begin to see yourself as broken or damaged. Many individuals automatically equate hearing loss with aging. Denying it exists is more comfortable than facing the loss and seeking treatment for it like getting hearing aids.

While it is easy for you to pretend there isn’t a problem, it’s more difficult for your friends and family to ignore. Pointing out that you have a hearing issue leads to conflict, especially when it first starts. You want to fight the obvious, but they see the effects of the condition like the volume going up on the TV every night, the misunderstood communications and the potential safety hazards that arise with hearing decline. For you, it’s just a reminder of how the problem changes the way you see yourself.

What to Do About Mild Hearing Loss?

The first step is to see a doctor. Hearing loss is a complex process. Getting a hearing check-up might show the problem isn’t age-related but due to a wax build up or some other minor issue. The hearing decline can also be a symptom of a chronic medical problem like diabetes or high blood pressure. For some, gradual hearing loss is the first sign of these potentially serious medical conditions.

Next, go out and get a professional hearing test done. Even if the doctor is able to resolve your mild hearing loss, a hearing test at this stage serves as a baseline for your future exams. After five years, consider having another test done to detect any further decline. This way, you have a chance to take preventive measures and maybe save your hearing.

So, should you be worried about minor hearing loss? Simply put, yes, any loss of hearing matters in your life. It can indicate a medical problem and, eventually, change the way you feel about yourself. .

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