By Anita Giles MS, CCC-A
Physicians Hearing Center
Life is about relationships—those that we have now and those that we have had. The loss of relationship and the ability to share life with someone you love can occur by distance or death, but it also occurs when someone can’t hear well enough to communicate or interact. Loss of relationship due to Hearing Loss (HL) can be changed with treatment to give the brain the sound information the ears are no longer able to provide.
Side effects of HL include:
• Inability to communicate
• Misunderstanding conversation, TV, and phone calls
• Can’t conduct business without help
• Misunderstanding medical care/instructions
• Difficulty hearing alarms, doorbells, or emergency vehicles
• Exhaustion/frustration from trying to guess what people are saying
• Less interaction with people leading to Isolation/Loneliness/Depression
• Decline in memory and concentration
• Faster onset of dementia
• Greater risk of falls
• Appear confused, unresponsive, rude, or uncooperative
A client remarked recently: “Hearing loss is the only disability that people get mad at you about and yell at you because of it, which doesn’t help you”.
HL develops gradually due to damage to the inner ear structures. Since there is no way to repair this damage, the impact of HL is permanent and must be dealt with. When you or someone else notices a problem with your hearing, the first step is to seek professional help to identify the problem. An evaluation by an Otolaryngologist (Ear Nose Throat) physician will diagnosis and treat any medical issues found with the ear. An audiologist as the health care professional who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of hearing disorders will evaluate the function of the auditory system. This evaluation includes testing to assess one’s ability to hear at different loudness levels (intensity), pitches (frequency), and ability to understand words to determine type and degree of HL. With this evaluation and information about your listening difficulties and concerns, the audiologist can create a treatment plan for your hearing deficit.
HL is a TREATABLE disorder, and its impact can be decreased with appropriate intervention. Treating HL requires a multifaceted approach to care with professional support. The journey begins with the appropriate fitting of hearing devices, which address and amplify the sounds that you are having trouble hearing. Hearing devices include hearing aids (HA), bone anchored hearing systems or cochlear implants.
Although hearing instruments are helpful, they do not address every difficult listening situation such as noisy environments and hearing from a distance. Assistive Listening Devices (ALDs) may be needed to bring sound directly to your ears or hearing aids. ALDs include captioned or amplified phones, FM systems, TV adapters, remote microphones, smartphone apps and loop systems in public buildings.
Hearing aids do not sound natural until your brain learns to make sense of sound with DAILY use. With appropriate hearing technology in place, practice “hearing” in many different environments to increase your brains’ ability to listen and comprehend. THE BEST HEARING AID IS ONE THAT IS WORN.
Enhance communication with listening strategies such as looking at the person, reducing distance and noise, and asking for clarification.
Maintain a relationship with your audiologist to keep the HAs working and personalized for your hearing needs.
Hearing problems can get worse if you ignore them. Treating your loss of hearing results in MORE communication and LESS frustration.
For More Information About Hearing Loss:
American Speech-Language-Hearing Association
Hearing Loss Association of America
National Institute on Deafness and Communication Disorders