Thursday, May 18, 2017
Hearing loss is one of the world’s most common, but often ignored problems. Some people are born with a hearing loss, others experience it as a natural part of the aging process. Head injuries, strokes, ear infections, exposure to noise and side effects of certain medications can also cause hearing problems. Even wax build up can make a slight hearing loss into moderate one.
Hearing loss is not like listening to sounds with the volume turned down. Instead, you notice that certain sounds are more difficult to hear than others. Unlike the loss of vision, you are not often aware of the extent of your hearing loss. If you don’t hear the phone ring, it is as if it never happened.
While only a few kinds of hearing loss can be reversed with medical treatment, hearing aids can be useful in most cases. Although hearing aids don’t replace normal hearing, they can enable people to enjoy communicating with family and friends again. Wearing a hearing aid also signals to others that you have a hearing impairment and you need them to speak directly to you. Helpful hints when you are talking to a hearing impaired person are as follows:
- Try to keep a distance between speakers under 5 feet.
- Speak slowly and distinctly. Speaking too loudly or shouting will distort the sound.
- Look directly at the person so they can pick up on speech cues and facial expressions.
- Try to talk away from background noise if at all possible.
- If a person has only one hearing aid or has much better understanding in one ear, always sit on the “good” side to talk.
- If someone doesn’t understand a word, try rephrasing rather than just repeating the same word.
- Keep a sense of humour about the communications problems and you will put the other person at ease.
If you suspect you have hearing loss, check with your doctor. Have him or her look in your ears and make sure you don’t have wax build up and ask him or her about any ototoxic medications you may be taking. If you have associated dizziness, nausea or noises in your ears you will likely be referred to an ear, nose and throat doctor. If you ever have sudden loss of hearing, it is a medical emergency and you should go to the hospital immediately for treatment.
Dale Hewie from Complete Hearing Health Ltd is a Hearing Instrument Specialist with a nursing background who provides regular hearing clinics at Luther Village on the Park. For more information about on-site services or to book an appointment at an upcoming clinic visit the Wellness Centre.