How is your hearing range, really? This simple quiz can help get you started on your path to understanding your hearing health.
1. Do you have difficulty understanding the other person on the telephone?
2. Does it seem like most people around you are mumbling?
3. Is it difficult to understand one person's speech while there is background noise?
4. Do you find it difficult to understand the dialogue on TV unless you turn the volume up high?
5. Do you often need to ask others to repeat themselves?YES NO
Hearing loss effects nearly 15 percent of all American adults and 2 to 3 out of every 1,000 children born in this country; however, many receive a lot of misinformation about the condition. Whether this comes from well-meaning but misinformed family members, or simply the little white lies we tell ourselves, understanding the truth about hearing loss is vital to getting the help you need to live your life to the fullest.MYTH 1: If I had a hearing loss, I would know it.
Hearing loss does not usually happen after one particular incident. It is usually so gradual you are unlikely to notice it at first. You may notice that you have to turn up the volume on the TV or radio to understand what is being said, or find yourself asking people to repeat themselves during a conversation. You may even find yourself thinking, "Why does everyone mumble?" or asking people to repeat themselves. Even if you insist that your hearing is just fine, take a cue from your loved ones if they are asking you to have your hearing tested. The sooner hearing loss and its cause are identified, the sooner you can begin hearing better.
Most people are reluctant to use hearing aids to improve their hearing in fear they will spend a lot of money on something that will not help them in the end. These people are usually surprised to find out that hearing aid technology has dramatically changed with the digital aid. Hearing aids are no longer simple amplifiers, they are miniature computers that can effectively filter out certain frequencies. Trying to listen to a conversation in a crowded room? Hearing aids can help. Want to listen to music at a concert hall? Hearing aids can filter out background noise and hone in on the music. Your lifestyle will determine the type and features you will need in a hearing aid rather than having to tailor your lifestyle to your device.
True, hearing loss gets worse over time, but so does your brain's ability to interpret auditory information. In a condition called "auditory deprivation", the brain forgets how to identify and interpret sound waves into language. In other words, the longer you live with hearing loss, the less hearing you will be able to recover once you reach what you consider "bad enough".
So how do you know when your hearing has gotten, “bad enough”? According to the American Hearing Research Foundation, a person with a mild to moderate bilateral (meaning both ears) hearing loss who has a communication gap is considered an ideal candidate for a hearing aid. You will notice this definition is not in terms of decibels or longevity, but in how your hearing loss affects you and your loved ones. "Bad enough" defines the point when you begin missing out on conversations or having to ask people to repeat themselves continuously.
Hearing loss is frustrating, not only for the person experiencing it, but for their coworkers, friends, and family members. People who know they will have to repeat themselves in order to be heard often avoid conversations with someone with a hearing loss. This is especially true when the person with a hearing loss refuses to seek help. As it progresses, hearing loss only isolates the person experiencing it, often resulting in depression or fractured relationships.
Most people who believe that hearing aids are unattractive are envisioning large, cumbersome amplifiers worn behind the ear that whistled when they were turned up too far. Those days are gone. Today's digital hearing aids can be worn behind the ear, in the ear, or even in the ear canal. Most people won't even notice you are wearing them. These smaller, sleeker models range from small but visible to nearly invisible without sacrificing their features.
This excuse is often heard from those who have not sought out help for their hearing loss. To you who are afraid hearing aids will make you feel old, we offer a few statistics that may change your mind.
First, hearing loss can happen at any age. In fact, 2 to 3 out of every 1,000 babies are born with some form of a hearing loss. It is so common that all babies are screened for hearing loss before they leave the hospital. Hearing loss is also common in those with certain occupations that expose them to loud noise, in teens and young adults who listen to loud music in ear buds, and anyone who has stood by a speaker at a rock concert.
Second, participating in conversations, interacting with people and enjoying the sounds of nature help you stay young. Hearing loss has kept you on the sidelines of these interactions for far too long.
If you have bilateral hearing loss, meaning you have a mild to moderate hearing loss in both ears, you need two hearing aids.
Let's put hearing loss in these terms: If you’ve ever worn contacts or glasses, imagine you are attempting to play catch with correction in one eye only. Your ability to see the ball, judge distances, and have depth perception are all affected by their brain's inability to interpret information unilaterally. Hearing works the same way in a lot of respects. Both ears are required to maintain balance, judge the location of the speaker, and clearly interpret speech sounds, regardless of where they are coming from.
What are you waiting for? If you are experiencing a hearing loss, stop sitting on the sidelines of your life. Let Mid Island Audiology help you get back on the road to better hearing today.
People tend to have a lot of questions about hearing loss, a subject that is often misunderstood. Read below for our answers to common questions on the topic.
Q. Are there different types of hearing loss?
A. There are two basic types of hearing loss - sensorineural and conductive hearing loss. Sensorineural hearing loss is caused by damage either to the inner ear or to the nerve that leads from the ear to the brain. Conductive hearing loss happens when there is a problem conducting sound anywhere along the route from the outer ear to the inner ear. Both types of hearing loss can happen in conjunction with one another but both have different causes.
Q. What are the causes of hearing loss?
A. Sensorineural hearing loss is generally caused by damage to the inner ear or the nerve that leads from the inner ear to the brain. Sensorineural hearing loss may be caused by injury, aging, infections, noise exposure, medications or drugs, hypertension, obesity, diabetes or stroke. Conductive hearing loss is generally related to things that obstruct the pathway from the outer ear to the inner ear. This includes wax build up, perforation of the eardrum, infection, dislocation of the bones in the middle ear, tumors, or something in the ear that should not be.
Q. Who has hearing loss?
A. Hearing loss can happen to anyone, at any point in their life. Two to three newborns out of every 1,000 babies are born with some form of hearing loss. Common childhood diseases or high fevers can leave young children with hearing loss. Adults who work in occupations where they are exposed to constant, loud noise often have some form of hearing loss. Hearing loss can also happen as a byproduct of aging.
Q. How do I know if I have hearing loss?
A. Hearing loss affects as many as 15 percent of all American adults, yet most of those experiencing hearing loss will say that they did not notice it at first. Think of all of the sounds you are exposed to throughout your day. Car horns, music, television, phone calls, conversations, construction... the list goes on and on. Since hearing loss is a gradual process, most people begin noticing a difference in the softer sounds they hear over the course of the day. You may notice that you have to turn the television louder in order to understand the daily news. You may find yourself complaining about people mumbling. Or you may even ask people to repeat themselves on a regular basis. If this sounds familiar, you may have a hearing loss.
Q. How does a hearing loss affect those around me?
A. Most people think that their choice to ignore a hearing loss only affects them. However, hearing loss affects everyone around the person experiencing it as well. Consider the strain it puts on a conversation every time you ask someone to repeat themselves. Think about the softer sounds you miss - birds, leaves rustling, water trickling in a stream. That’s not to mention the dangers that come with a more significant hearing loss. If you cannot hear a rattlesnake’s rattle while you hike, you cannot evade danger. If you cannot hear during a phone conversation, you cannot call someone for help. Hearing loss has been linked to greater feelings of isolation and increased incidence of depression as well. It is not something that should be ignored and it is certainly not something that only affects the person experiencing it.
There are also a lot of misconceptions about today's hearing aid technology including what they can do and who can benefit from them. Check out these frequently asked questions to get the truth on hearing aids.
Q. How do hearing aids work?
A. Today’s hearing aids are complex pieces of digital technology. In their most basic form, a hearing aid is a small microphone, speaker, amplifier, and battery. The microphone picks up sound from outside of the ear canal, the speaker (receiver) converts that sound into electrical signals and then converts them back into sound, which is amplified into the ear canal. Digital technology allows the sound to be converted more quickly resulting in a crisper sound.
Q. Will a hearing aid bring back my hearing?
A. Unfortunately, once you have experienced a sensorineural hearing loss, there is nothing you can do to regain it. Hearing is a complex process that involves more than sound traveling into the ear canal. It begins with soundwaves and ends in the brain where millions of pathways interpret that sound as speech, music, thunder, etc. While hearing aids cannot help you regain your hearing, they can amplify the soft sounds and conversations you have been missing. They can also help you preserve your brain’s ability to process speech sounds into language, a process that can be lost if hearing loss is left unattended.
Q. How do I know which hearing aid is right for me?
A. Dr. Thomas Recher at Mid Island Audiology is a highly trained audiologist who has years of experience in diagnosing and treating hearing loss. Dr. Recher will test your hearing, analyze the results, and help you determine which hearing aid is right for you.
Q. Will my hearing aids make me look old?
A. Not if you don't want them to. Today's hearing aids are much smaller than your grandparents' models. While over the ear models are available, many are designed to rest entirely in the ear, making them nearly invisible. However, it is important to note that age is really just a number and we are all only as old as we feel. Isolation due to hearing loss will make you feel far older than a tiny device that will dramatically improve your life.