The Sense of Hearing
Blindness separates people from objects, whereas deafness separates people from people, according to Helen Keller, the well-known American author, political activist and lecturer. Those of us with good hearing may take for granted the moments we share with one another, yet those moments are the ones that matter most. There is no denying that when we miss out on the world of sounds around us, we miss out on life.
Living with Hearing Loss
Living with hearing loss is not easy. When left untreated, it can make life miserable and can lead to a wide range of physical and emotional conditions.
Signs of hearing loss include: difficulty understanding people on the telephone; not always being able to hear the doorbell ring; having the television or radio on too loud for comfort for others; difficulty following conversations in a restaurant or at a party; or trying to understand what a grandchild is saying. Life can be stressful because even trying to understand simple everyday conversations can become a chore. When hearing loss is not treated, you can experience a wide range of emotions, including frustration, anger, loneliness, depression and fatigue.
Don’t Be the Last to Know
The most common tell-tale sign of hearing loss is that everyone knows but you. Colleagues, coworkers, neighbours, friends and family may notice your loss of hearing and bring it to your attention, but often people ignore the advice and instead justify their difficulties by saying, “they were mumbling,” “there was too much noise to understand,” or “I wasn’t listening.” It takes, on average, seven years for a person to attend to his/her hearing loss.
Because hearing declines slowly over time, you may not be aware that you are losing your hearing. You might notice that you occasionally miss a few words, or that some sounds seem easier to hear than others. But what you may not notice is how hard your brain is working to figure out what was said. You’re forced to guess what was said, but often the conversation has moved on.
Inevitably, you end up saying, “What did you say?” or “Could you repeat that?” Or you simply remain silent. You pretend to understand what was said but often find yourself in hot water with a sure argument to follow!
You’re Not Alone
If you have hearing loss, you’re among the 10 per cent of Canadians who report some loss of hearing, with the two main causes being noise and aging. But hearing loss can occur at all ages:
• 4 in 1,000 newborns
• 1 in 5 teenagers
• 3 in 10 people over age 60
• 5 in 10 people over the age of 70
Good Health Requires Good Hearing
Hearing-impaired individuals have reported that they are less healthy than others. “Among the population with hearing loss, only 39 per cent say they are in excellent health, compared to
68 per cent of those without hearing loss,” according to “Hearing Loss: A Growing Problem That Affects Quality of Life,” from the National Academy on an Aging Society. Treating hearing loss may reduce physician visits but more importantly can improve overall quality of life.
There is also compelling evidence that more harm can be done by not treating hearing loss than was ever believed before. According to “Hearing Loss in Older Adults: Who’s Listening?” in the Journal of the American Medical Association, hearing loss may contribute to dementia. However, other studies have shown that with proper treatment, people with hearing loss may experience less dementia. The good news is we know how to treat it effectively. The use of hearing aids, or amplification, is an evidence-based treatment for hearing loss.
Fortunately, the vast majority of people with hearing impairment can be helped by amplification. Thanks to research and development, today’s hearing devices provide superior sound
quality and are discreet and virtually invisible to others. It is no wonder that the use of hearing aids has become more common. And it is no surprise that recent studies have shown that nine out of 10 hearing aid wearers reported improvements in their quality of life.
Don’t hold back: Schedule your hearing test today by calling one of our three clinics most convenient to you.
Ajax-Pickering Audiology Clinic
Pickering Medical Centre
1885 Glenanna Rd., Suite 104, Pickering
Bayly Audiology Services
95 Bayly St. W., Suite 502, Ajax
Whitby Hearing Centre
1032 Brock St. S., Unit 4, Whitby