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Hearing loss mythbusters

Contributed by , staff writer for Healthy Hearing

Addressing your hearing loss can be frightening, as it can be with any health concerns. There are so many unknowns: the cause, the treatment, if it can get better, if it will get worse. But one thing is for certain: ignoring the problem won’t make it disappear. If you’re noticing your hearing has changed, the only way to get answers is to see an audiologist in your area.

There are many myths about hearing loss people believe as well, whether genuinely or just as an excuse to avoid the doctor. To help you become a little more comfortable with the potential outcomes of your audiology visit, we’ve compiled a list of common myths to debunk for you.

If I had a serious hearing problem, I would know

Would you? Your hearing changes gradually over time, and our brains are good at adapting to nominal alterations. If you could compare your hearing today with your hearing five years ago, you might be surprised. Only regular visits to an audiologist can truly gauge how well you’re hearing and identify potential problems.

getting a hearing exam
A hearing exam is an easy and 
painless procedure. 

I get yearly physicals; my general practitioner would know if I had a hearing problem

In March 2011, the National Center for Biotechnology Information found that as many as 86 percent of physicians do not regularly screen for hearing loss due to lack of time, time spent on more urgent matters and lack of reimbursement. Consequently, your hearing health can be placed on the back burner.

Hearing loss only affects senior citizens

Not true. While hearing loss is a common problem that occurs as we age, the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) estimates that roughly 15 percent of Americans between the ages of 20-69 have high-frequency hearing loss. That’s 26 million people, many still in the prime of their lives.

A little hearing loss is fine, it just means sounds aren’t quite as loud

Hearing loss comes in all shapes and severities; it doesn’t necessarily mean that just the volume on your ears is turned down. Hearing loss can affect certain frequencies of sound, meaning you miss certain portions of sounds or speech entirely. It can also be sensorineural, meaning sounds and speech are warped or distorted. Additionally, depending on the cause, it can affect your balance and mental focus.

I don’t think my hearing loss can be helped

How do you know without consulting an audiologist? There are many solutions to hearing loss today. Sometimes it can be as simple as removing impacted ear wax, but there are ways to resolve more complicated hearing problems as well, including surgical procedures and hearing aids.

Hearing aids are too much of a bother and will make me look old

There are a number of hearing aid styles to fit your particular form of hearing loss and your personal lifestyle. Some styles are very discreet and hide inside the ear bowl. Technology for these devices is improving all the time, and new discoveries will continue to change the offerings for hearing loss patients.

Hearing aids are too expensive and I can't afford them

There are multiple options for helping pay for hearing aids and hearing aid batteries. If your health insurance doesn’t cover them, you can look to the Veteran’s Administration, AARP and your audiologist for payment options. Your audiologist should be able to help you find funding, and might even be able to enroll you in a club for discounted hearing aids.

The only way to get concrete answers to your questions, of course, is to consult an audiologist in your area. A simple consultation can get you back on track to full hearing health. What are you waiting for? 

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