Hearing loss is an invisible yet incredibly common issue, especially among older people. Since people with hearing loss don’t look any different, that makes it a challenge for others around them to know and understand what they are going through or know how to help them. There is also a stigma attached to having hearing loss and using hearing aids. This stigma causes a majority of people (about 80%) to delay or avoid getting hearing aids altogether. Those that do eventually use hearing aids wait an average of ten years before taking steps to get them.
Hearing devices can be costly, and are usually not covered by medical plans, which is another reason people with hearing damage wait to get them, even if they are really needed. These reasons on top of the fear to admit they have a hearing problem means there are a lot of people around us people with untreated hearing loss.
There are a few hearing loss misconceptions that can help us to better understand the challenges hearing loss sufferers face, and give us some ideas for solutions.
Hearing Loss Misconceptions
1. Hearing loss is only a problem in the elderly.
Hearing loss is definitely common among the older population, but hearing damage is an issue for all age groups. A lot of things can cause hearing damage, most commonly frequent, loud noise exposure. Loud noises can be anywhere: your lawnmower, a noisy factory work environment, fireworks or loud music.
2. Hearing devices are a quick fix.
Hearing aids are different than a pair of glasses: you don’t just magically hear perfectly as soon as they are inserted. Your audiologist may need to adjust your hearing aids to your brain’s specific needs to achieve the best hearing experience. Your ears and your brain collaborate so you can identify and recognize sounds in your environment. Hearing aids are simply a means for your brain to understand and interpret sounds.
3. If you speak louder, people with hearing loss can hear you better.
Many people thing that hearing loss is just turning down the volume. Hearing damage, however, is more akin to a broken microphone that distorts sound whether it’s loud or soft. This is why shouting at someone who is hearing impaired usually doesn’t help at all.
4. Take a pill for it: hearing loss is fixable.
As of right now, permanent hearing loss is irreversible. That makes hearing loss prevention very important. The best way to ensure you know about hearing loss before you even notice it yourself is to get quick, easy, yearly hearing screening with your audiologist. Call our office today to set one up!
5. Hearing loss is just laziness; they aren’t paying attention.
When people have hearing loss are not being lazy or ignoring you: they really don’t hear you! Hearing fatigue is another problem for people who suffer from hearing damage: listening and understanding takes much more effort than it does for people with normal hearing. They must focus to understand sounds that are for everyone else just come naturally. Once they have a break, they are usually ready to put forth the effort once again.
6. Lip reading is easy.
If you have ever tried to lip read you know it’s not something anyone can do! Lip reading is a skill and it takes time to master it. Even the best lip readers are playing a guessing game, so we can help by gesturing and giving them other clues.
7. There is only one sign language.
Wrong again! There are over 130 different sign languages, which vary by country, language and region!
8. Driving is not for people with hearing loss.
Even people who are deaf can drive–they have to be very careful of their environment and pay attention to everything happening using the other four senses.
9. Deafness is genetic.
Deafness and hearing loss can be caused by a large range of reasons. Loud noise exposure, accidents, illnesses, congenital defects or ototoxic chemicals can all play a role, but deafness is rarely genetic.
10. Hearing aids are cumbersome and ugly!
Modern hearing aids have advanced with today’s technology: they are now much less conspicuous than they have ever been! Hearing aids are now “smart” too and can be run and adjusted by your phone or other devices! Modern hearing devices are super small and can fit completely into the ear canal making them are practically invisible! Many hearing aids are also wireless, and come in lots of shapes, colors and sizes.
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The information provided in this article is not meant to be medical advice and is for educational purposes only. If you would like to learn more about this and other topics related to audiology, feel free to contact Los Gatos Audiology, with a convenient hearing center located in Los Gatos, CA, by clicking here or by calling 408.703.0772.