The importance of paying attention to your hearing in day-to-day communication
By: Dr. Soriya Estes
The rustling of wind through the trees, the fullness of the Austin Symphony as the piccolos and flutes chase the violins, the punch line of a joke during cocktail hour and the dramatic declaration during the cliffhanger of Downtown Abbey: All of these sounds we take for granted until they are not there or have been gradually taken away due to hearing loss.
Because the onset of hearing loss is typically a slow, gradual decline in sensitivity, active individuals may not realize more and more listening situations may be harder to understand as each year passes. Often in counseling sessions with an audiologist, the patient with hearing loss realizes that people aren’t actually mumbling, but rather, the inability to hear certain frequencies or pitches of people’s voices makes the clarity of words diminish.
Frustration with hearing loss can build and lead to resentment or even regression from family members or coworkers, especially when there is background noise or poor acoustics during communication.
National statistics show that on average, it takes an individual five to seven years from the onset of hearing loss before one seeks treatment for the loss. One stark realization is the fact that our inner ear hearing nerves, or hair cells, work on a “use it or lose it” philosophy, like most nerves in our body. If you are not stimulating those small hair cells, they forget how to fire the proper sound or signal up to the brain, and the brain can forget how to use certain sound information if deprived for too many years.
With more than 32 million Americans diagnosed with hearing loss, it is no surprise that people are getting baseline screenings and becoming more aware of the importance of good hearing in their day-to-day communication. Furthermore, advanced hearing solutions are making hearing aids no longer a burden, but a great enhancement to active lifestyles. With options such as Bluetooth wireless capability and extended wear devices that are 100 percent invisible, there are even more reasons to stay active with communication and avoid frustration with social and work situations.
Many private health insurances are beginning to have coverage not only for the diagnostic assessment of hearing function, but also the recommended digital hearing aid solutions.
As we kick off a new year of changes, improvements in quality of life and just overall ease of day-to-day living, it makes sense to investigate the solutions that are best for gaining back the sounds that life has to offer.
Find this article printed in January’s edition of Austin MD Magazine!