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When Should You Talk To Your Doctor About Hearing Loss?


This is a guest post by Annie Lynsen, on loan to AARP from Small Act.

Have any of the following happened to you?

  • You've found yourself tired or stressed from trying to hear.
  • You believe that everybody mumbles.
  • You find it easier to understand others when you are looking directly at their faces.
  • You frequently ask others to repeat themselves.
  • You increase the television or radio volume to a point that others complain.
  • You have difï¬culty understanding speech in noisy places like cars, restaurants and theaters.
  • You fail to understand your doctor's instructions about medications.
  • You make inappropriate responses because you didn't understand a question.
  • You miss essential sounds like doorbells, alarm clocks and smoke alarms.
  • You have trouble hearing on the telephone.
  • You turn one ear towards a speaker to hear better.

If so, it might be time to talk to your doctor about hearing loss.

There's no need to suffer in silence, but sadly, most people do. According to a recent AARP-ASHA study,  "a majority (57 percent) of member respondents with untreated hearing difficulties don't believe their problems warrant treatment." There are lots of excuses fornot being treated, but most of them don't hold water:

"I can hear just ï¬ne."
You may think this because the problem came about gradually. You may have adjusted to the decline in your hearing and believe you are still hearing normally. Others around you, though, may believe differently!

"People don't talk as clearly as they used to."
It's probably your hearing, not their talking. It's common for people, like former President Clinton, to ï¬nd it hard to hear speech in noisy places but still have normal hearing under other circumstances.

"My friend got hearing aids and she can't stand them."
Everyone's experiences and needs are different. Friends may have put their hearing aids in the drawer because they weren't properly ï¬tted, received a poor quality product, or did not get proper counseling about how to use hearing aids.

"I can't afford them."
Many people have concerns about the cost of the testing and the aid, the lack of insurance reimbursement, and maintenance costs. Hearing aids can be a major expenditure, but many users ï¬nd the costs well worth the improvement in quality of life.

"They are so complicated."
Today's hearing aids are technologically advanced products, like mini-computers in your ears. But once they are set correctly to your needs, you don't have to ï¬ddle with them. Some hearing aids adjust automatically and others have features that
you may use in different situations.

"They make noisy places noisier or whistle in my ears."
Newer designs do a better job of increasing ampliï¬cation when you need it, while not increasing background noise or annoying "feedback."

"I won't be able to talk on the phone."
Most hearing aids now come with special features to make telephone and cell phone conversations comfortable.

"I don't want to look old."
Needing hearing aids may be an unwelcome reminder to you of your aging process. But, many new hearing aids are virtually invisible.

"What will my coworkers think?"
Hearing aids won't restore youth or normal hearing. Getting an aid does mean you are smart enough to do something about the damage to the sensory cells in your ears so you can function better at work and elsewhere.

Check out the AARP Consumer Guide to Managing Hearing Loss (pdf) for more information.

Photo credit: aroid on Flickr

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