Hearing loss occurs to most people as they age. Hearing loss can also be a result of exposure to loud noise, medications, infections, head or ear trauma, congenital or hereditary factors and some disease processes. The vast majority of hearing problems do not require medical or surgical intervention. Some 90% to 95% of all cases of hearing loss can be corrected with hearing aids.
There are approximately 31.5 million people in the USA with hearing loss. Hearing loss is the single most common birth “defect” in America. Approximately one third of all seniors aged 75 years and older have significant hearing loss. About 14 percent of all people aged 45 to 64 years have demonstrable hearing loss. Hearing loss negatively impacts quality of life, personal relationships and of course, the ability to communicate.
- You hear people speaking but you strain to understand their words.
- You frequently ask people to repeat what they said.
- You don’t laugh at jokes because you miss the story or the punch line.
- You frequently complain that “people mumble.”
- You ask others about details of a meeting you just attended.
- You play the TV or radio louder than friends, spouse and relatives.
- You cannot hear the doorbell or the telephone.
- You find that when people look directly at you while they speak to you, it makes it easier to understand.
- If you have any of these symptoms, you should call our office today.
Nothing could be further from the truth. First of all, “nerve deafness” is a misnomer. Hearing loss that occurs with increasing age or from hereditary factors is rarely caused by a deterioration of the hearing nerve, but is caused by damage to the tiny hair cells in the inner ear or cochlea. The vast majority of successful hearing aid users have been told they had “nerve deafness” at one time or another. “Nerve deafness” is simply a term that has been used to label any type of hearing loss that cannot be treated by medicine or surgery.
Florida Medical Clinic Audiologists are Doctors of Audiology and are experts in the diagnosis and management of hearing problems. The audiologist will conduct all appropriate testing to determine if hearing aids might be of benefit. With today’s advanced technologies, the vast majority of hearing losses can be corrected with hearing aids. Only 20% of hearing losses in adults are caused by medical problems, but if indicated, an appropriate referral will be made for medical treatment.
Hearing loss often occurs very gradually and is a problem only in certain listening conditions. It is easy for the listener to blame background noise, room acoustics or the speaking characteristics of others for inability to hear clearly. It is hard for many to accept that the problem is theirs and not the speaker’s. It may be useful to sit down with your mother and share with her how frustrating her hearing loss is for you. You have to get her attention before you can speak to her. You cannot talk to her from another room. She is always asking you to repeat what you say. It is just plain hard work to communicate with her and that makes visiting difficult and unpleasant. Many people don’t realize what an imposition their hearing losses are for friends and family members and end up socially isolated as a result. Approach your mother’s hearing loss from the standpoint that you would like to be able to visit with her more freely, and that might persuade her to seek help. Offer to make her an appointment with an audiologist and then go with her. Florida Medical Clinic Audiologists are trained to counsel those with hearing loss and help them deal with their feelings of denial.
Many people still feel that the use of hearing aids creates a stigma associated with aging and/or disability. It sometimes helps to point out that the stigma of appearing inattentive, self-centered or just plain dumb is much worse than the “stigma” of hearing loss. The successful use of hearing aids is very common. Patients usually find that the benefits of better hearing outweigh their concerns that someone will see their hearing aids. And, with new smaller, sleek and stylish aids available, they are harder for others to see than ever!