How important is it to treat a hearing problem? This question often comes up with those newly diagnosed with hearing loss, particularly if the hearing loss is mild. Some refuse a hearing aid or cochlear implant, saying they are getting by without intervention. In fact, it usually takes seven years after the initial diagnosis of hearing loss before someone agrees to wear a hearing device.
People refuse to treat hearing loss for a number of reasons. Some find hearing aids and implants expensive. Others find aids uncomfortable to wear or too hard to use. People who expect instant results from hearing aids or implants might find it difficult to undergo fittings for three or six months, the time needed to adjust to a hearing device. Those who require an implant may not want to go through surgery, a recovery period, and the required rehabilitation.
Some people ignore their hearing loss by saying they can hear well enough. Others turn up the volume on their televisions or radios. They face the person talking and learn to lip read. Some avoid noisy restaurants and bars, and retreat from social activities. Why wear an aid or implant when I can find my own way to hear? Hearing is a vital sense. We are social beings. Studies have shown that untreated hearing loss might lead to depression and dementia. We interact with one another through conversing. Hearing keeps us involved with life. When we hear well we can earn a living, fall in love, and raise children. Good hearing allows us to be an engaged spouse, family member, or friend. If we volunteer, our hearing helps us to aid others. Enjoying our favorite television series, a great concert or reaching out via telephone to family, friends, or business associates is impossible if we can’t hear.
If you notice that you have trouble hearing under any circumstances, you should visit an ENT physician and have a hearing test. Sometimes hearing loss is the result of earwax build up or another underlying medical condition. Taking certain medications can affect hearing. If the earwax is removed, if the medication is stopped, or if the underlying condition is treated, normal hearing is sometimes restored.Sensorineural, conductive, and single-sided hearing loss result in permanent hearing loss, but these conditions can be treated. Cochlear implants and hearing aids never restore hearing to normal levels. However, technologically advanced hearing devices can help one to hear well enough to be socially engaged. Peripheral devices such as television adapters, mini mics, and hearing loops can improve hearing in noise.
I have suffered from hearing loss for most of my adult life. Like most people, I was reluctant to accept that I had a problem that needed treatment. I resisted wearing aids for nearly seven years after my diagnosis of sensorineural hearing loss. After realizing that I was becoming reclusive and that my life wasn’t normal, I agreed to a hearing aid. Now, I see my audiologist regularly. When necessary, I update my hearing aids and peripheral devices with the best technology I can afford. Though there are times when my hearing issues are frustrating, I’ve learned to cope and accept what is. As we meander through the hearing world, recognize that hearing loss need not be debilitating. It can and should be treated. There is help and hope in hearing devices. Research is ongoing. I believe that we will cure hearing loss. In the meantime, consider treating hearing loss. By so doing, you will become part of the life you were meant to live.