Family, Friends, and Hearing Loss

Hearing Solutions Audiology Doctors Leahy and SawhillThe holidays are an important time for friends and family to connect, share stories, and enjoy conversations. But for many, the struggle to hear and understand clearly can be frustrating and tiresome just from the effort of listening.

Early diagnosis and treatment of hearing loss can help enhance quality of life. Untreated or unrecognized hearing difficulties frustrate and isolate people of all ages. In adults, hearing difficulties can affect social interaction, create emotional trepidation, put a strain on relationships, and jeopardize careers. In children, hearing difficulties can impede learning and are an obstacle in building relationships that are essential to a happy, healthy lifestyle.

It is natural for people to feel insecure or embarrassed about needing hearing aids. Stigmas related to hearing aids can be overwhelming- from the fear of being “different” to the intimidating thought that needing to have devices to hear properly means they have reached “elderly status.” In reality, hearing loss does not discriminate. Age and the cause for why someone would need hearing technology to hear better varies from person to person.

Whoever said high tech can’t be elegant? Unfortunately, society has not yet given hearing aids high marks of sophistication, such as the way eyeglasses have become so stylish that kids are getting frames even though they don’t need them to correct their vision. With today’s technology and everything wireless, maybe someday soon hearing aids will be the new “trend.” Until that happens, it can help to ease concerns by involving someone who has firsthand knowledge of the benefits of wearing hearing aids to explain their experience and answer questions. Today, hearing aids are discreet, have amazing capabilities and several can even connect wirelessly with other technology (such as cell phones and tablets). Who wouldn’t want that?

If you feel someone you care about is having difficulty hearing, approach the subject gently and do not be surprised if you are met with resistance. Studies have shown it normally takes up to seven years before someone will seek help for hearing problems. It is best to be a source of support. Begin by helping your friend or family member recognize where they may be struggling.

Education is the best remedy to ease worries. Sound quality has come a long way since the inception of hearing aids, but expect some time to adjust. Often reduction in hearing happens so gradually that it may go unnoticed. You may want to provide a list of common symptoms that can help to determine if they should seek an evaluation from a professional audiologist. An audiologist will look inside the ear canal for wax build-up and other abnormalities. Most audiologists offer free screenings, which indicate if a full diagnostic evaluation needs to be completed. Offer to go with your friend or family member to their appointment, better yet, schedule one together.

Common Symptoms Include:

• Frequently asking people to repeat themselves

• Turning an ear toward a sound to hear it better

• Understanding people better when wearing glasses or looking directly at faces

• Having difficulty understanding in group conversations

• Turning the volume on radio or TV to a level others say is too loud

• Having pain or ringing in the ears (Tinnitus)

• Having difficulty with hearing women or children

If you or someone you care about has difficulties hearing, it may benefit you to have it checked by a professional audiologist who truly cares about hearing health. At Hearing Solutions, Dr. Kathleen Sawhill and Dr. Sandra Leahy care that friends and family are able to enjoy every day, especially the holidays. We educate patients on treatment options then prescribe solutions that best meet their hearing health care needs based on lifestyle, hearing loss and budget. Our goal is to ensure our patients have the best possible quality life. For more information on hearing health care related subjects, please visit us online at or call us at (231) 922-1500 to schedule a free screening today.

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