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Hearing Loss

 

There are more than 24 million Americans of all ages who suffer some type of hearing problem. Hearing loss is a medical problem. It may be sensorineural (nerve loss), conductive (blocked sound transmissioon), central (a problem in the brain), or a mixture of these. Occasionally, hearing loss is related to a metabolic condition or an intracranial problem. Have your otolaryngologist or otologist and their audiology staff examine your ears and hearing and recommend the proper treatment for your hearing loss.

 

Does your ability to hear cause difficulty in any of the following situations?

 

1.      Use of the telephone

2.      Listening to TV or radio

3.      Speaking to friends, relatives, or neighbors

4.      Communicating with coworkers, customers, or clients

5.      Chatting at a party

6.      Hearing in a movie theater

Does a hearing problem cause you to--

1.      Avoid shopping malls

2.      Feel frustrated with family members because you can’t hear correctly what they say

3.      Make you embarrassed in groups

4.      Make you irritable

5.      Cause you to feel “alone”

6.      Argue with family members

As stated previously, hearing loss is a medical problem. Your best health interests are served by the proper evaluation of your hearing by an otolaryngologist and an audiologist working as a team.

Conductive Hearing Loss:

There are many different types of diseases and conditions of the outer and middle ear which can produce hearing loss. Many of these conditions can be medically managed and improved by the otolaryngologist.See your ear doctor if there are any questions in this regard.

Sensori-Neural Hearing Loss:

Problems affecting the inner ear may be the result of noise damage, trauma, disease, and/or genetic factors. Some forms of sensorineural hearing loss need medical management. A rare few kinds of nerve hearing loss benefit from surgical treatment. Of those, only a few are caused by serious, life-threatening disease, but these few don’t look much different on initial presentation from the non-life-threatening hearing loss. Thus, we cannot stress enough that hearing loss must be properly evaluated by both an audiologist and an otolaryngologist. Therefore, it is not in the best interest of your hearing health for anyone to purchase a hearing aid without a professional evaluation first.

Both ears work together to present balanced sound perception to the brain. When one or both ears loses their ability to pick up sounds normally, listening and responding to every-day speech and sounds of the environment become difficult.

Our brain is designed for stereo input. With equal input to each ear, our brain presents us with complete information.Balanced hearing is vital to our ability to instantly locate the source of a sound and hear/understand in a noisy environment.

Hearing Aids

Hearing aids make sound louder. They do not improve the ability of the ear to understand. They range in size from an all-in-the-canal tiny aid to a larger canal aid to behind-the-ear aids to body aids. The kind of hearing aid needed depends on the severity of the hearing loss and the amount of money spent on the aid(s). Programmable in-the-ear aids are the standard of the industry at this time.

Benefits of binaural amplification:

1. SAFETY: When a person hears with two ears, locating the source of a sound is greatly improved. This can be life-saving in dangerous situations.

2. IMPROVED UNDERSTANDING: Sound input from two ears is superior when trying to understand voices and other sounds in group situations, especially when background noise is present.

3. WIDER RANGE OF HEARING: Voices barely audible at a distance of 10 feet with one ear can be heard at a distance of up to 30 feet or more with two ears.

4. MORE NATURAL LISTENING: listening with one ear is physically tiring and stressful. Hearing with two ears is less stressful and more natural than hearing with one ear, like switching to mono when you are used to hearing a record stereophonically.

Realistic Expectations for Using Hearing Aids

Your new hearing aids can be of tremendous help. However having realistic expectations of what the hearing aids can and cannot do is an important first step toward hearing rehabilitation.  Both you, your family, and even your close friends should understand the following information about hearing instruments.

1. Hearing aids should allow you to hear many sounds that you may not hear, or may not hear clearly, without amplification. Examples of such sounds might be soft speech, children’s voices, and soft environmental noises.

2. Hearing aids should allow you to understand speech more clearly, and with less effort, in a variety of listening situations.

3. Hearing aids should prevent normally loud sounds from becoming uncomfortably loud.  Sounds that are uncomfortably loud for normal hearing individuals may also be uncomfortable when using hearing instruments.

4. Hearing aids may allow you to understand speech more clearly in some types of noisy situations.

5. Hearing aids will require time to get use to, and to attain your maximum performance potential as you gradually become accustomed to amplification.

6. Hearing aids will not restore your hearing levels to “normal” or pre-existing capabilities.

7. Hearing aids will not slow down the progression of your sensorineural hearing loss.

8. Hearing aids cannot remove all background noise. Some hearing instruments can reduce amplification of some types of background noise, but may have a similar effect on speech information. Your hearing aids will often produce improved sound quality and a more comfortable listening experience in some noisy environments.

Communicating with someone with a Hearing Problem:

When speaking to anyone who may have a hearing problem, first speak the person’s name in order to attract his/her attention. Then proceed to repeat the message. Be close, generally within 3 to 5 feet of the listener. If you, the speaker, realize that the message was not understood, one of the following strategies may be helpful to improve communication.

Repeat the message again:

Original sentence:y mother called today.

Repeat sentence:My mother called today.

Use fewer words or more common words, or both:

Original sentence:The black and yellow cardigan is hanging in the closet.

Easier sentence:The sweater is in the closet

Use different words

Original sentence: The television is broken.

Rephrase sentence: The TV is broken.

Repeat key words and/or provide more information:

Original sentence: I made some chicken.

More information: I made some baked chicken. We’ll take it to the picnic.

Speak (or write) one important word

Original sentence:The boys are playing baseball.

Keyword: Baseball.

Limit the response when asking a question:

Original sentence: Where did you go?

Expanded sentence:Did you go home after the party?

Build from the known. Start by presenting easy information:

Original sentence: Please put the tray on the table on the porch.

Building sentence: Here is the tray (hands tray to listener).

The table is on the porch (speaker gestures

toward porch).

Please take the tray to the table.

 

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