EYEWITNESS NEWS (WBRE/WYOU) — Hearing loss is often associated with old age, but the truth is it can happen to anyone. If left untreated, it can cause more than just a disconnect between you and your family, friends, and co-workers.

Untreated hearing loss can cause a host of physical and mental issues. It’s why it is so important to know the first steps to take to address hearing loss.

Just how prevalent is hearing loss? The numbers may surprise you.

“From ages 12 and up in the United States, there’s over 30 million individuals with hearing loss,” said Audiologist and founder of “Hearing Up,” Doctor Cliff Olson.

Dr. Olson is an advocate for better hearing, which he says starts with taking preventive measures in situations that can damage your hearing.

“Wearing hearing protection anytime you go into a noisy situation or anytime you do an activity that involves a lot of background noise or noise in general,” Olson explained.

Hearing loss can result from wearing ear buds and listening to music too loud. It can cause the condition tinnitus: a ringing sound or other noises in one or both of your ears.

“A lot of individuals who have hearing loss also develop tinnitus because of a lack of auditory information that makes it from their ears up to their brain,” Olson continued.

Untreated hearing loss can lead to an increased risk of injury and depression, and even cognitive decline and dementia. Before it can reach that point, Dr. Olson urges you to see an audiologist.

“An audiologist has been specifically trained to complete a comprehensive audiologic evaluation to identify exactly what type of hearing loss that you have,” Olson stated.

Not all hearing loss is the same and neither are all hearing aids. New technology has resulted in some devices allowing you to hear better in a background noise scenario.

“The ReSound Omnia has been specifically designed to help you in a background noise situation by improving speech intelligibility by 150 percent compared to older technologies,” Olson said.

The bottom line? Dr. Olson recommends addressing hearing loss head-on and prevent you from suffering in silence.

“Everyone should be getting their hearing tested. If not that, at least get it screened,” Olson commented.

Dr. Olson is also the founder of “Hearing Up,” a network for people to connect with local experienced hearing professionals.

Head to ReSound.com to learn more about how to better care for your hearing and utilize a free, online screening tool to test your hearing.

You can also go to HearingUp.com for additional information and resources.