Hearing loss -often due to missed treatment opportunities rather than aging
Ignoring hearing loss can lead to unnecessary, permanent and irreversible damage to hearing. The nerves and centres of the brain that help you hear die away if they are not stimulated. Early checks on hearing loss and fitting of often invisible modern hearing aids, can stimulate your natural hearing organs to work better and for longer into old age. Unattended, a sufferer can not only have hearing loss, but over time can lose the ability to distinguish between different types of sound which can lead others to wrongly conclude that they are mentally confused. The longer you wait to deal with hearing loss the less benefit a hearing aid can be in supporting or improving your natural hearing ability. All of this is avoidable and early intervention is critical to prevent hearing problems becoming more complicated than they need to be.
How do you know you need a hearing test?
H- OME – Do you find it hard to hear the telephone, doorbell, radio or TV at home?
E- NGAGE – Is it hard to engage in conversation in crowds or restaurants?
A – SK – Do you have to ask people to speak more clearly?
R – EPEAT – Do people often have to repeat themselves for you?
Other signs of hearing loss include feelings of ear fullness or pressure, ear noises such as ringing or buzzing, dizziness, and turning up the TV and radio volume. When you are in the quiet of the home your hearing loss may not be so obvious but warning signs often appear when out and about and you encounter difficulty with background noise or find yourself looking at people’s lips to try and understand what they are saying.
People often try to compensate for their hearing loss by sitting very close to or directly face to face with people who are talking to them. In more extreme cases people avoid social situations altogether, often without realising that they are doing it or why they are doing it; they just know that for some reason they feel anxious, moody and withdrawn. The worst thing that can happen is that people use these coping mechanisms to deal with gradual hearing loss and get so used to it that they do not realise how much their hearing is declining.
Poor hearing can have a real and adverse impact on people’s happiness and engagement with their friends and family. If you notice that a family member is having difficulty hearing, it is kinder to encourage them to seek the free hearing test that will establish what help they need than to let them and you suffer in polite silence. After all, family relationships go so much better when you can hear and understand each other!
By Brian Daly, Audiologist and
Manager at Hidden Hearing