Trouble hearing? It’s easier to blame noisy restaurants or workplaces, to think that “everyone mumbles”, or that your granddaughter has a very soft voice. In fact, hearing loss typically happens to us very slowly, over a long time, so it’s easy to miss. And it’s more common than you might think.
You’re not alone!
The latest available statistics show that over 10% of the U.S. population reports difficulty hearing. That’s more than 31 million people! And as the Baby Boomer generation continues to age, that number promises to increase dramatically.
48 million Americans of all ages experience hearing loss, including one in six baby boomers. Hearing loss can be caused by exposure to noise, diabetes or other factors, but most often it’s simply a result of aging.
While you can’t stop aging—yet—you can treat hearing loss. The good news is that most hearing loss is mild and treatable. There is no reason to tough it out or to be left out when you could easily be getting more out of life.
With the right hearing treatment plan and hearing aid, you’ll be able to turn up the volume on everything. You can stop asking people to repeat themselves. You can turn down the TV so the neighbors on the next block aren’t hearing it, too. With treatment, you’ll be able to stay involved in all the activities you enjoy and live life to its fullest again.
How We Hear
How do your ear and brain work together to help you hear? Hearing begins when sound waves enter your outer ear (you know, the visible portion of the ear located on the outside of the head) and are channeled down your auditory canal, a tube-like passageway lined with tiny hairs and small glands that produce earwax.
At the end of your auditory canal lies the middle ear, which is composed of the eardrum and three small bones, often referred to as the hammer, the anvil and the stirrup. Which sounds like things you might find at the town forge but stick with us here.
When sound waves hit your eardrum, it vibrates and, in turn, moves the bone shaped like a hammer. The hammer then moves the anvil, which moves the stirrup, transmitting the vibrations into your inner ear. The middle ear functions to amplify sound, which is why significant hearing loss can result from any disruption in any of its parts.
Hair cells can be damaged by use of ototoxic drugs, disease and simply aging. And once these hair cells are gone, you can’t use Rogaine to make them come back. Hearing aids can be used to compensate.
All the parts described above create a system which enables you to hear clearly. If you’re experiencing hearing loss, we can determine what’s not working as well as it should be. Then we’ll explain your options to you and help you choose the best solution for your hearing needs and your lifestyle.
9 Myths About Hearing Loss
Over the last few decades there have been huge advances in both our understanding of hearing loss and the technology used to solve hearing problems. Unfortunately, most peoples’ assumptions about their hearing are outdated or plain wrong.
Before you put off treatment for another day, discover the truth about hearing loss.
MYTH 1: I’d know if I had hearing loss.
Fact: The truth is that hearing loss is so gradual that you may not notice it right away. As your hearing loss increases, you may compensate by turning up the volume or by always asking people to repeat themselves. Denial is most people’s first reaction to hearing loss, followed by blaming others for mumbling or keeping the TV volume too low. We all tend to be stubborn, but the fact is, if your friends or family members are telling you that you have hearing loss, you probably do. Especially when you consider that your odds of having hearing loss are 1 in 5.
Remember that people without hearing loss don’t need to convince others that “I can hear just fine!” If you’ve been told that you need a hearing test, it’s time to get one.
MYTH 2: It’s not worth the trouble to improve my hearing.
Fact: Maybe to you it isn’t worth it, but just ask the people around you how they feel. It can drive your family nuts when they constantly have to repeat themselves or be driven out of the room by the volume of the TV. Seriously, hearing loss can lead to frustration, social withdrawal, and depression — even dementia. The best solution is to deal with hearing loss rather than act like it’s not a problem.
MYTH 3: It doesn’t matter if I put off getting hearing aids.
Fact: Hearing loss will get worse over time. Researchers even have a name for this: they call it auditory deprivation. The longer you ignore your hearing loss, the more hearing you’ll lose that can never be recovered. Hearing aids can help, but only if you have enough hearing left to be saved. And the longer you live with hearing loss, the harder it is to adjust to using hearing aids.
MYTH 4: If you’re hearing impaired, it’s just a matter of turning up the volume.
Fact: Sure, you can take that approach. But don’t expect to have the best relationships. When people know they’ll constantly have to repeat themselves, they tend to save themselves the trouble by avoiding you.
The right way to turn up the volume is with the use of professionally programmed hearing aids, so that you don’t have to turn up the volume on everyone else. Keep in mind that people resent being burdened when they know that someone could just as easily help themselves.
MYTH 5: Hearing aids won’t work for me.
Fact: Hearing aids work for almost everyone, but only if you use the right technology with the right settings. Will the cheap hearing aids that you can buy online without evaluation, fitting or adjustment from a hearing professional improve your hearing? Not likely.
On the other hand, if you work with your hearing specialist to find the right hearing aid, programmed for your specific hearing loss, fit and adjusted to your lifestyle, your hearing aids will almost certainly help you hear better.
MYTH 6: Hearing aids are ugly.
Fact: Not any more. It’s true that older models were large, and there were few options. Today you can choose from dozens of behind the ear, in ear or in the ear canal models. The newest models are sleek and small, with some types that fit completely inside the ear canal, making them nearly invisible.
MYTH 7: Hearing aids will make me look – and feel – old.
Fact: First, hearing loss affects people of all ages. Second, if you are experiencing hearing loss, constantly asking people to repeat themselves, missing parts of the conversation, and responding inappropriately makes you seem old! Stay young by hearing clearly and participating in conversations with confidence and without hesitation.
MYTH 8: I can save money by just getting one hearing aid
Fact: You can save money by buying just one hearing aid or just one shoe, but we wouldn’t recommend either. There’s a reason you have two ears; you use them both to locate the source of sounds, to maintain balance, and to hear sound clearly regardless of the direction it’s coming from. If you have hearing loss in both ears, you need two hearing aids.
MYTH 9: Hearing aids are expensive
Fact: Some flat-screen Ultra-High Definition TVs retail for more than $8,000, but the millions of people who buy these don’t think they are too expensive. It’s all about value.
Hearing clearly is part of staying healthy, happy and active. How much is that worth to you? The hearing specialists at Harmony Hearing Centers of America will recommend the hearing aid options that best match your hearing needs, your lifestyle and your budget.