Better Hearing

Is Hearing Loss Affecting Your Connection to Others?

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By Henry Ford Health System Staff

Approximately 48 million Americans have some degree of hearing loss, but adults wait an average of seven years before they seek help.

One reason for the delay in seeking treatment is that the brain adapts to the gradual changes in hearing, and the hearing loss is not recognized by the patient. It is like not realizing you need bifocals until you hold a book out farther and realize that you can see. Many people wait until their hearing has become so bad they begin to lose their connections to the world around them.

Even though the brain tries to adapt to hearing loss, there will be easy-to-spot signs. The signs a person may have hearing loss include:

  • Asking people to repeat themselves.
  • Difficulty hearing in noisy environments.
  • Turning up the volume on the TV or music louder than others need it.
  • Withdrawing socially.
  • Ringing in one or both ears.

Many cases of hearing loss can be treated and improved with the use of hearing aid or other assistive devices, but there’s still a stigma associated with wearing a device. Audiologists say this is another common reason that people may put off getting a hearing evaluation. People may think that a hearing aid will make them look too old or weak. But hearing devices actually have the opposite effect.

“Hearing is fundamental to communicating and connecting with others. Often we find that when someone finally gets a hearing device, they end up feeling a sense of renewal because they are able to more fully participate in social activities,” says Henry Ford audiologist Wendy Rizzo, Au.D.

Where do you start?
Start your journey toward better hearing with a visit to a qualified audiologist. You can even begin this conversation with your primary care physician  at your annual check-up. Whether your doctor refers you or you find an audiologist on your own, everyone should have regular hearing evaluations, especially those over the age of 65 and anyone with a family history of hearing loss.

A hearing evaluation performed by an audiologist will determine the type and severity of your hearing loss. Audiologists can also help you find a treatment that fits your needs, budget and lifestyle such as a hearing device or aid. He or she can also ensure the proper fit once you do decide on a device, since that can be a critical factor for achieving the best outcome.

Better hearing is key to connecting with others. Schedule a hearing evaluation for you or someone you care about. Call 1-800-HENRYFORD (436-7936) or visit henryford.com to schedule your hearing test today.

Dr. Wendy Rizzo is a senior staff audiologist seeing patients at Henry Ford Medical Center – Fairlane in Dearborn.