You Should HEAR What You Are Missing!
By Denise E. Stewart, M.S., CCC-A
Audiologists frequently see patients who come to the office for a baseline hearing test. These patients often report that their spouse prompted them to have their hearing checked. Yet most of the time the patient fails to relay observations of their own communication difficulties. Only when asked specifically about certain situations do they admit to difficulty hearing in a large group of people and in noisy restaurants. These patients often negate the importance of these situations citing that they rarely attend large parties or noisy restaurants. The people they can’t hear well are described as being unusually soft spoken. Why do so many people fail to recognize their own hearing difficulties? One reason is hearing loss usually occurs very gradually and it often starts first in the high frequency range where clarity of conversation is affected first rather than perception of loudness. It is easy to blame others for poor articulation or mumbling with this type of hearing loss progression. It is important to recognize some signs and symptoms of hearing loss in order to seek treatment. Here are a few guidelines to help you decide if you may need audiologic evaluation:
- You frequently ask others to repeat themselves or find yourself missing parts of ongoing conversation in a small group of people.
- You are unable to follow conversation in noisy places where others are able to converse without the same level of difficulty that you are experiencing.
- You use a higher TV volume than others in your family or your spouse
- You are hearing noises in your ears called tinnitus such as ringing, chirping ,buzzing or wind noise frequently or on a constant basis
- You have frequent difficulty understanding telephone conversation and find that you avoid answering the phone.
If you find that one or more of the above conditions are true of you, you should ask your physician to refer you for an audiologic evaluation. The audiologic evaluation is completely painless and some patients even find the test to be fun! So, it is difficult to understand why so many people delay having their hearing evaluated for years. Research has shown that delaying evaluation and treatment of hearing and communication difficulties has the following negative effects:
- Increased stress resulting in irritability, a negative attitude and anger
- Fatigue, tension and depression
- Avoidance of many social situations resulting in loneliness
- Impairment of memory and ability to learn new tasks
- Reduced job performance and earning power
- Reduced alertness and awareness of one’s environment resulting in increased risk of personal safety
- Diminished emotional health
- Diminished overall health due to effects of ongoing stress on blood pressure and the immune system
So you can see that “a little bit of hearing loss” can be a dangerous thing if not recognized and treated. After your hearing is evaluated, your audiologist will counsel you regarding your treatment options. Treatment may involve use of hearing aid technology, assistive communication devices, training in tinnitus management strategies and training in communication strategies to address difficult listening situations.
The Riddle Difference:
The audiologists of Riddle Audiology Department offer patients individualized treatment plans based on the patient’s audiometric results and their personal listening needs. This personalized approach to hearing healthcare results in high patient satisfaction. Patients often tell us that they never knew what they were missing. Better hearing opened up a whole new world!
For more information or to schedule an evaluation or treatment, contact the Audiology Department at Riddle Hospital.
Barbara J. Madden, Au.D., Doctor of Audiology/Director
Catherine M. Marino, Au.D., Doctor of Audiology
Denise E. Stewart, M.S., Clinical Audiologist
Lisa C. Mackenzie, M.S., Clinical Audiologist
RIDDLE HOSPITAL Audiology & Hearing Aid Center
1118 West Baltimore Pike, Suite 207
Media, PA 19063
(484) 227-3200-phone (484) 227-3265-fax