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Hearing Loss and Hearing Aids - Go Pro-Active

Hearing loss most often gradually occurs and persons often do not realize how much hearing loss they have or the extent to which it is affecting their ability to hear. Here’s how hearing loss is often first noticed:

  • You used to listen to the TV at volume setting 6. Then it went to 8. And now 10 seems a little soft to you. What, you think it’s the TV’s speakers going out?
  • You amp up the phone to the max to hear a new client – and even then you have to focus on every sound. It’s hard not to keep saying “What?”
  • You can’t hear the cat meowing to be let in for supper.
  • Your cell phone is always in vibrate mode because you can’t hear your Beyounce ring tone.
  • You can’t understand people talking across the room.
  • You choose restaurants, not for the cuisine, but for how quiet they are.

Any of these sound familiar? Yes? Well, chances are, you’ve got some hearing loss on your hands…or in your inner ear. And guess what? Mom isn't going to make an appointment to have your hearing evaluated by a professional. Your spouse won’t do it. Your co-workers won’t do it.

Nobody is going to address this worsening problem except you. Yeah, you! And if you think hearing loss is a condition that improves with age…umm, you might want to do a little on-line research.

Today, the over-50 crowd experience part of the natural aging process – hearing loss – right up there with going bald and unexplained aches that “weren’t there yesterday.” Aging of the auditory nerve is the most common cause of hearing loss but far from the only cause. This isn’t just an issue for the Gray Panthers.

Young adults, in their 30s, are now reported to be fast growing population of persons with hearing loss. These “kids” grew up with head phones, ear buds, cell phones, X-Boxes and ambient noise morning, noon and night. And hearing professionals are unfortunately seeing younger and younger patients.

So, you’ve noticed the problem. (See list above – again!) And nobody is going to take the action needed to fix the problem except you. Conclusion? Time for a hearing evaluation. Time to take control of your hearing health.

The steps from “What?” to “I see” are pretty straightforward and there’s no pain but lots of gain so here’s how you go pro-active in addressing hearing loss – whether you’re 25 or 65 or 85. It’s on you.

Taking Control Of Your Hearing Loss

otoscopic ear exam

1. Have your hearing evaluated. An audiologist or other qualified hearing care professional can determine not only the extent of your hearing loss, but specifics about the type of hearing loss, potential cause, frequencies where hearing loss is greatest and all that other inner ear information.

Another thing. This first evaluation establishes baseline readings for comparison in the future to see what’s working and what isn’t – always a good thing when it comes time to tweak your hearing system.

2. If hearing aids are in your future, develop your list of priorities with your hearing professional. Hearing aids today come in a variety of types, styles and with different price tags. Your hearing professional will go over your options and what would be the best hearing aids for you and your hearing loss.

Listen carefully. Your hearing loss may be so significant that a completely-in-the-canal (CIC) device won’t deliver the power you need to address the extent of hearing loss.

Each hearing aid candidate will have a different set of priorities including:

cost - probably the first consideration of most first-time hearing aid buyers.

ReSound be hearing aids
be by ReSound, does this say old age?

discretion - invisibility is important to many working in the corporate world where hearing aids are viewed as a sign of “brokenness” or “old age”.

convenience – higher-priced models deliver automated convenience, adjusting effortlessly to changing listening environments. Most hearing aids come with automated feedback suppression and other handy-dandy features that make a hectic life a little simpler.

Some of the coolest hearing aids: (1) warn you when your hearing aid batteries are getting low, (2) actually notify you of your next appointment with your hearing pro and (3) use data logging to record your listening preferences so the hearing professional can configure your hearing aids to your precise needs and listening preferences.

type – some consumers want a CIC unit while other buyers find that completely-in-the-canal devices seal off the ear canal, creating a “stuffy” feeling and distorting the sound of the wearer’s own voice. That is when the latest open-fit hearing aids come in, allowing an open natural feeling ear canal while still being fed the amplification for the frequencies needed.

Not all hearing aids fit all consumers. Hearing aids have been designed to meet a variety of lifestyle needs. Some units are wireless, enabling connectivity through cell phones, PDAs and other digital transmissions without fumbling with an uncooperative hearing aid.

Some hearing aids are water resistant and dirt proof for those of us who still run 5K each morning and want to hear the birds as we zip along.

A hearing professional can lay out the menu but you know your lifestyle best. You know what’s most important to you. So, take your time and select the right device for your budget and your professional and personal needs.

Note to self: Quality hearing aids are expensive. However, don't let price be your only consideration in your final selection.

You may spend a little more for convenience or discretion. You’ll pay more for a water-proof membrane and increased programmability. It may hurt to spend a little more but you’ll enjoy the benefits of more features and superior quality every day for years to come. Can you really put a price on improving the quality of your life?

3. Increase your awareness of problem environments. Maybe you have trouble hearing in noisy crowds or problems hearing over the phone. Make a list of problems for review by your new partner in hearing health. Hey, if hearing the TV is the only problem you have, you may not have to spend a wad of cash to be able to hear the evening news.

4. Remember, be your own best advocate. Who else is going to do the research? Who else is going to make follow-up appointments during the adjustment period wearing a couple of new hearing aids. Who else is going to learn the adaptive skills required to hear more natural sound more clearly?

It’s you, boys and girls. Part of becoming an adult and all of that. So, read the consumer guides, read the product literature provided by your hearing professional. Read it all. Discover the hearing tools available, sift through all of that information, and make a decision in conjunction with your hearing professional.

5. Fight for your rights. The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits discrimination in hiring, access to education and access to public facilities based on an individual’s disability – regardless of what that disability is. That includes hearing loss. Once again, be your own advocate. If you feel that you’ve been passed over for a promotion because of hearing loss, if you feel unwanted at important meetings, say something to your supervisor and do something about your hearing loss.

6. Join self-help or aural rehabilitation groups . The Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) offers information, support, answers to questions, advice and recommendations and they work to protect the rights of those with hearing loss.

There are local meetings of others who wear the ear gear and fight the cultural stigma associated with hearing aids.

Aural rehabilitation groups are typically offered by local audiologists. These groups aim to help hearing aid wearers learn how to adapt and utilize their hearing aids to the best of their ability. Wearing hearing aids for the first time is an ongoing process and learning way to maximize the use of your hearing aids and utilize helpful listening strategies can ensure a successful experience using hearing aids.

Finding that support in others with hearing loss, other hearing aid wearers and the professional can enhance the use of your hearing aids. So start being proactive today.

Find a hearing professional near you and make an appointment. It is one step in the right direction that you will never regret.

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