Here is what to do if you have trouble hearing through testing and solutions
Many people deny they are hearing impaired, which is stressful for those around them and on the person who can’t hear. Do not be ashamed or embarrassed about hearing loss and do not deny it. Many people, especially older individuals, suffer from this problem. It’s very commonplace.
What to do if you have trouble hearing? The first and most vital step: Admit it.
Perhaps you aren’t sure if you have experienced auditory loss. Ask yourself these questions:
- Do you have difficulty understanding what is being said on the phone?
- When several people are talking at once do you find it hard to follow the thread of the conversation?
- Does background noise make comprehension problematic for you?
- Do family members complain because you turn the volume up too high on the TV
- Do you accuse others of mumbling?
- Do you ask people to repeat what they said?
- Do you misinterpret what has been said and respond inappropriately?
- Are the people around you getting impatient because you don’t know what they’ve said?
- Is it difficult understanding women and children when they speak?
If you have answered ‘yes’ to three or more of these questions, you may be suffering from auditory loss. There are hearing aids, therapies and lifestyle changes that can lessen the detrimental effects of hearing loss.
As a person ages, the tiny hair cells in the ear necessary for hearing become damaged or die. These cells do not regenerate. This results in permanent auditory loss. Age-related hearing loss is called presbycusis.
If exposed to loud noise throughout life (including music) this, too can cause auditory loss. Certain medications can contribute to loss as can smoking.
Make an appointment with an ENT (ear, nose, throat) doctor, who will probably send you to an audiologist, who identifies both hearing and balance disorders. Tests performed by the specialist determine the degree, if any, of auditory loss. The audiologist assesses amplification devices that can be used by the patient and provide rehabilitative services.
If you have suffered a loss, you may need a hearing aid. On the other hand, the problem may be the result of something as simple as wax build-up in the ear. This can be remedied.
Devices. such as telephone amplifiers, are available. Some telephones come equipped with screen so the individual can read what is being said. Some people learn to read lips or learn sign language.
Another alternative is the cochlear implant, which enables a person to once again hear sound and understand speech but it does not result in ‘normal’ hearing.
The Perils of Auditory Impairment
When a person can’t hear the phone ring or the smoke alarm beeping or someone knocking at his door or entering his home, this puts him in jeopardy. Steps must be taken to ensure the person continues living safely. This may require installing flashing lights on the phone, indicating it is ringing, or installing lights that flash when someone knocks on the door or rings the doorbell or enters a residence. Alarm clocks that shake the bed rather than ring are available.
Auditory loss can lead to isolation and depression because the person feels left out. He is unable to hear and unable to communicate appropriately.
For those of you living or working with a auditory impaired person, be patient. Speak clearly and distinctly, although you do not need to yell. Look at the individual when you are talking to him so he can see your lips and read them if he chooses. Write down messages if necessary so he can read them. Encourage the person to seek help. He will be happier as a result and so will you.