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How to Detect Hearing Loss and When to Start Using Hearing Aids

The onset of Hearing Loss

Except for some congenital diseases, it is not usual to suffer from severe hearing loss overnight, as stated by Fairway Hearing, and the symptoms of hearing loss manifest gradually, which often means that we are not aware that we are losing our hearing. We simply ignore them and get used to hearing worse. Below we refer to some of the symptoms that serve to detect if this type of loss is being generated. Usually, the first to notice a hearing loss are family, friends and neighbors.

Symptoms of early hearing loss include:

  • Turn the volume on the TV or radio higher.
  • Give a different answer to what is asked.
  • Ask others to repeat what they have told you.
  • It is difficult to follow conversations in family gatherings or groups of people in general.
  • Some sounds are too loud and annoying.
  • Confuse similar words.
  • Having trouble having a conversation on the phone.
  • Complain of the constant ringing or buzzing in your ears or head.
  • Not hearing (sometimes) when they ring the doorbell, electronic gate or knock on the door.

Consequences of not going to hearing specialists

A large percentage of people who show the symptoms we refer to enter a phase of denial and take an average of 4-5 years to recognize and assume the problem. This can have serious consequences/side effects in your life since untreated hearing loss can lead to physical, mental and psychological problems. Some of them are mentioned below:

  • We stop doing some of our favorite activities.
  • We isolate ourselves and enter a phase of depression and reluctance, feeling disconnected from the people around us.
  • We lose part of the conversations and we feel less and less like participating in them.
  • We become “sulky” with family and friends.
  • Hearing loss is linked to decreased memory, learning ability, and job performance.
  • The chances of accidents on public roads and in domestic environments are increased since the state of alertness is reduced and we do not perceive the sound warning signals.

When is it necessary to use hearing aids?

Mild loss: periodic annual check-ups are recommended to control the evolution and the precise moment in which the prosthesis should be used.

Moderate loss: the use of hearing aids is necessary to prevent hearing from degrading and we can restore the damage caused, thus obtaining more gratifying adaptation results.

severe loss: the use of a prosthesis is essential to avoid total isolation, at this point, in most adaptations with hearing aids there are limitations in the results due to the deterioration suffered in the “auditory memory”. In these cases, the result is usually that despite using a prosthesis and hearing that they are speaking to you, you still do not understand many words.

Ask the people to speak slowly to you, pronouncing well and to stand close and face you so that you can read their words.  The loss of comprehension/understanding of words (auditory memory) is the main reason why we must try to solve the problem before reaching this type of loss, so that we can obtain a better quality of hearing and therefore better quality of life.

Why are some people reluctant to wear hearing aids?

It is quite common for people with moderate hearing loss to reject the use of hearing aids, some even, despite having bought them, prefer not to use them and leave them stored. Why is this happening? Below we refer to the most frequent causes:

  • The denial: they come to have the study done and/or they buy the hearing aids due to family pressure. They do not consider that they need them, they consider that they hear well despite their family’s complaints about having to repeat the words, the volume of the TV, misunderstandings in conversations, etc.
  • Complex and insecure: they are embarrassed to wear hearing aids because they consider that wearing them is “an old person thing” and they prefer to suffer the consequences of hearing loss rather than put a solution to it “because that makes them feel younger”. Here we should reflect… Why do we sacrifice our health for the benefit of social acceptance caused by insecurity, aesthetics, an age crisis, etc.?
  • Economy: they need to use hearing aids in both ears but they can only buy one for economic reasons. This means that the result obtained in the adaptation is diminished since we lateralize because we only hear well through the ear in which we use the hearing aid and even turn our body and head towards that side as a tuning antenna. Due to this lateralization, we lose the sound location that tells us where the sounds come from, and in order to orient ourselves and locate the sounds we would need to complete the binaural adaptation.
  • Background noises: they are afraid to use hearing aids because they have talked to people who use them and they have told them that they have a lot of background noise and that it is very annoying. This is true. When hearing aids are adapted, they are trying to recover as much hearing as possible, for example we cannot want to have a conversation in a bar with our companion and not hear the coffee pot, the sound of glasses and plates or the background noise of the conversations of others. Although this is very annoying, it is neither more nor less than what we hear when we are normal listeners and do not have hearing loss, so hearing these noises is normal and should be like this when it comes to recovering from hearing with a prosthesis. You should get used to it again to feel the sounds that you haven’t heard for a long time.
  • Orientation and follow-up: there are people who, when they buy their hearing aids, are not completely comfortable and end up keeping them in the drawer and forgetting them. Just like any other external prosthesis of the body, hearing aids need comfort adjustments. For this reason, instead of giving up, what they should do is, go to their hearing care professional so that they can make these adjustments and they can use their prostheses normally. They should also go to regular reviews as with any other health specialist.

Differences between headphones and sound amplifiers

There are some companies dedicated to selling mainly on TV “miracle products” that try to confuse patients looking for cheap hearing aids by presenting sound amplifiers as hearing aids as well. And of course, they are not. According to the American Agency for Medicines and Health Products “Hearing aids are medical devices that amplify and process sounds, intended to compensate for hearing deficiencies.

Sound amplifiers are electronic devices intended simply to amplify ambient sound for people without hearing impairment. In other words, while an amplifier simply increases the volume, hearing aids amplify frequency taking into account the patient’s hearing curve and applying the pertinent corrections in each frequency and with different intensities in a personal and individualized way.

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