Dealing with Hearing loss

Hearing loss can often come on slowly, which makes it easy to miss. It is not uncommon for someone who has started having hearing difficulties to not realize it themselves.  Since often times hearing loss starts with a diminished ability to hear only certain sounds or voices, it is easy to believe that the problem is not with us, but with others. There are some signs that can be clues to hearing loss that we can watch for in others, as well as ourselves.  These can include:

· Always turning up TV or radio volume.

· Problems hearing on the telephone.

· Cupping hand to ear or leaning in close when talking with others

     Hearing loss can be exasperating for all those involved. It can lead to misunderstanding words or saying the wrong thing.  It is not uncommon for people with hearing loss to eventually give up struggling to listen, and those close to them may stop talking to them. Untreated hearing loss can cause isolation and depression. It can also hurt the emotional and physical health of those who are close, particularly a spouse.

     In age-related hearing loss, hair cells in the inner ear that carry sound waves to the brain become less sensitive over time. Sounds become distorted. Certain letters become hard to hear and hard to tell apart, (such as S, T, and P). High-pitched sounds, like a woman’s or a child’s voice, also become harder to hear.

     If you think that you or someone you are caring for might be developing some difficulties with hearing, you should start with a hearing test. Often there are treatable causes for hearing difficulty.  Hearing loss has sometimes even been mistaken for dementia.  A health care professional will be able to let you know the cause of the hearing loss and what the best options are.  While hearing aids won’t be able to restore normal hearing, more than 90% of people with hearing loss can benefit from hearing aids. Hearing aids work by amplifying the sounds that the person is having difficulty with.

     There is also an abundance of devices specifically created to help people with hearing loss.  Telephones, TVs, radios and other amplifying systems can make life much easier. 

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