How’s Your Hearing?
This is the motto of the American Academy of Audiology. Human communication for most people depends on the ability to hear. Use of hearing for communication is one thing that separates humans from animals. Although we use our hearing for warning signals, music, and such, the primary use of hearing is to have interpersonal communication. What happens when there is no interpersonal communication? A person becomes withdrawn and inhibited. It is a lot easier to tune out than to tune in.
What causes hearing loss? There are many causes of hearing loss, some of which are correctable. It is not unusual for people, especially those in their 70s or older, to experience a build-up of dry wax and skin in the outer ear canals. If this debris blocks the canal, sound cannot get through, and a hearing loss will result. Following removal of the debris, hearing is usually better.
The aging process for hearing loss begins in the mid-40s. A breakdown of the inner ear hair cells begins a slow progression. For some people this breakdown is accelerated by previous noise exposure, a history of childhood ear infections, and heredity. Hearing loss due to deterioration of the inner ear is not correctable by medical intervention. Hearing aids are the best solution for this type of hearing loss.
“Your Hearing Loss is More Conspicuous than a Hearing Aid” was seen on a bumper sticker. How true this statement is. Due to the physical structure of the inner ear, damage to the high pitches occurs first. As a person ages, the damage begins to encroach toward the middle pitches. When
this happens, a person will begin
noticing that he/she is having diffi-culty hearing speech, especially.
However, by this time, friends and family have probably already noticed the problem. Obvious signs of hearing difficulty include problems hearing on the telephone, having the television loud, missing the sound of the doorbell, and having people repeat themselves.
Another bumper sticker reads “Audiologist Your Best Hearing Aid”. A doctor of audiology is the one most qualified to determine if a hearing loss can be helped with amplification, and which hearing aid is appropriate. The good news is that a new generation of hearing aids has arrived. These hearing aids use modem digital technology to better pull speech out of noise, while being almost invisible in or on the ear. By law, hearing aids are purchased on a trial basis. Everyone over the age of 50 should consider having their hearing evaluated to at least establish a baseline. Contact an audiologist today.