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Ask the Expert: Why is it important to treat hearing loss?

Answers provided by Kristen Dargay, Au.D., of Janning ENT of Willmar

Kristen Dargay, Au.D, Janning ENT. Contributed photo

What does your health reveal about your hearing?

Hearing loss usually develops over time, making it difficult to notice in many cases. People often deal with impaired hearing for years before receiving the treatment they need. The average patient, in fact, waits seven years before seeking help. 

Untreated hearing loss is related to a number of potentially serious mental and physical health problems, including dementia, depression, anxiety, and deteriorating physical health. 

It’s important to understand the links between your health and your hearing. By staying aware of your overall physical and mental health, you are better equipped to detect a hearing loss early. This allows an audiologist to treat your hearing loss more efficiently and effectively.

What are the signs that someone is experiencing hearing loss?

In order to recognize a hearing loss in you or a loved one, you need to know the signs and symptoms. Some typical behaviors amongst people with hearing loss include asking others to repeat themselves, disengaging during group conversations, struggling to hear women and children and turning up the volume on the TV and radio. 

There are also a few health problems that may indicate a hearing problem:

• A ringing in the ears—This symptom, called tinnitus, affects approximately 50 million Americans. It can indicate a number of health problems and is often a sign of hearing loss.

• Depression—As hearing loss develops, it becomes harder and harder for the person affected to connect with the world around them. As hearing and communication abilities decline, it can cause withdrawal, sadness, stress, anxiety and self-doubt.

What are the risks?

Many health issues and treatments can cause hearing loss, and it’s important to understand if you are at risk so you can get your hearing tested regularly. There are more than 200 medications toxic to the ears known today, and they have all been directly linked to auditory system damage. Some of the most common ototoxic over-the-counter and prescription drugs include certain antibiotics, chemotherapy drugs, loop diuretics, anti-inflammatory (NSAID) pain relievers and salicylate pain relievers like aspirin.

Several health and medical problems are also directly linked to hearing loss. These include Meniere’s disease, diabetes, cerebrovascular disease, certain autoimmune disorders and infections including herpes, influenza, measles, mumps, syphilis and meningitis.

How important are regular hearing tests?

Regular hearing exams can help an audiologist spot these issues before they grow worse and offer a treatment solution to those who might otherwise experience the debilitating social and emotional effects of living with a hearing loss. 

Hearing exams are quick, painless and perfectly safe. They allow us to protect one of our most valuable attributes, our sense of hearing. 

To learn more

Contact Kristen Dargay, Au.D., at Janning ENT to schedule a hearing test or learn more about hearing loss.  Janning ENT Center is located at 1801 19th Avenue SW Willmar, MN 56201. Their phone number is 320-231-3277.

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