Male narrator: This is the timeless story of hearing loss.
Laura Waterman Wittstock: Radio has always been something that has been a special part of my life. [on radio] Three seconds.
Laura: In radio, luckily, you have headphones. [chuckles]
[on radio] And it is 9:00 and...
Laura: When you start to lose hearing, you think, "It will not get worse." And it does. It does, inevitably.
Narrator: In the age of commercial space flight and instant global communication, it’s staggering just how common age-related hearing loss really is.
Laura: One day, I was just doing some work at home, and the ringing turned on in my ears. I remember it. It just happened.
Monique Hammond: The older we become, actually hearing loss becomes more frequent. Oftentimes it’s said that there is a lot of wear and tear on our, you know, hearing structures.
Narrator: After arthritis and heart disease, it’s the third most common chronic condition affecting older adults. Two out of every three of us will experience it personally once we’re in our 70s. And of those, 2/3 have noticeable hearing loss before the age of 60.
Laura: But since I could still hear conversation, I ignored the loss that was occurring.
Dr. Frank R. Lin: It’s not so much you can’t hear, actually. It’s more that your ear is constantly sending a garbled sound to your brain. And in turn, that load on the brain can contribute to faster rates of loss of thinking and memory abilities and your risk of dementia.
Narrator: In one study, adults with mild hearing loss were two times more likely to develop dementia than those without hearing loss. Adults with severe hearing loss were five times more likely. In fact, if age-related hearing loss goes untreated, your brain literally shrinks. It’s true.
Monique: That’s why it is so important to learn about hearing loss and what causes it and how we can protect ourselves.