What Are You Missing?
IF YOU HAVE A HEARING LOSS, the ability to hear certain words or sounds might not be all you are missing. A hearing loss might cause you to miss happiness, confidence and friendships. You might also be losing money.
Sergei Kochkin, Ph.D., Executive Director, Better Hearing Institute, conducted a survey to learn more about people’s experiences with hearing loss and hearing aids. A few of his findings*:
- “People with mild hearing loss, who may miss a consonant or a word here and there, will lose income if they can’t completely grasp the latest news at the water cooler or the subtle nuances in a phone message from the boss.”
- “The average amount of income lost by working people who don’t get hearing aids ranges from $1,000 a year (for those with mild hearing loss) to $12,000 a year (for those with profound hearing loss).”
People with hearing impairments suffer from more than loss of hearing. They also suffer from tension, fatigue, fear of compromised memory, confidence in social situations and progressive self-induced isolation from not being able to accurately hear the conversation that is occurring around them. Sadly, many people have no idea that these challenges are related to hearing and that the situation could be avoided.
The typical hearing impaired person hears almost all environmental noises and most vowels. They do not, however, hear certain phonemes—units of sound in a language we often think of as consonants—especially s, th, f, sh, t, k and a few others. They can understand one-on-one listening situations relatively well because they supplement what they hear with what they see on the face of a speaker (called speechreading). They have trouble, however, understanding people in a noisy environment or speakers who are not facing them. In fact, listeners’ complaints of speakers mumbling might be an indication of hearing loss.
Dealing with a hearing loss can be exhausting. Determining who is talking, the topic, sorting through misheard or misunderstood words and coming up with a response is time-consuming and tiring. The process can undermine self-confidence and pleasure. Eventually, the hearing impaired person may become so overwhelmed that he or she gives up trying to converse and becomes passive or isolated. Those problems can lead to depression, family tension and other problems.
The problems associated with hearing loss become compounded when listeners don’t recognize their hearing loss. They rightfully deny statements by others that they can’t hear. They can hear; conversation just isn’t clear. Hearing and understanding are two related, but separate things.
The good news is that hearing aids today can restore clarity, without accompanying loudness, for up to 80 to 90% of people with a hearing loss. If you or a loved one has a suspected hearing loss, suggest an evaluation including a speech understanding and emotional readiness assessment by a certified audiologist. Rule out any potential medical problems. Get an explanation of your hearing loss and a prognosis. Determine whether a hearing will help and, if so, have a fitting for a hearing aid that will be comfortable and nearly invisible to see— so the aid will stay in the ear and not in the drawer.
Can ABC Hearing Net help you or someone you love? Call Dr. Curtin at ABC Hearing Net in West Chester and find out what you might be missing: 610-431-2411.
$500 OFF A PAIR OF PREMIUM HEARING AIDSBy Dr. Judith A. Curtin, Au.D.