Doctor Office

Hearing Loss and You (and Me)

It’s no secret that as we age, most of us tend to experience some hearing loss. A recent study showed that about 48 million Americans suffer from some degree of hearing loss. Interestingly, nearly 95% of those with hearing loss could be treated with hearing aids.

For a variety of reasons, many of those folks actively choose not to improve their hearing. Some are in denial that they have hearing loss until it becomes unbearable. Some are concerned about learning how to operate a hearing aid, and some have heard horror stories about hearing aid prices. What we do know is that it’s typically between 7 and 10 years before someone who starts to notice hearing loss does something about it.

What’s the risk with hearing loss?

The brain can adapt to diminished hearing, but loved ones have a harder time adapting. Asking a spouse or friend to repeat themselves once or twice is fine, but multiple times every day? That becomes tiresome for everyone. And, when communication gets more difficult, it’s human nature to avoid social situations, especially if they might be noisy. Missing out on all the fun can cause feelings of isolation or depression. There are newer reports out that suggest that hearing loss may also contribute to dementia and a higher risk of falls.

Other ailments can contribute to hearing loss, too. Diabetes, high blood pressure, and some of the common drugs used to treat health issues can actually make hearing loss worse. Any opportunity to remove or diminish a health issue is worth pursuing.

What can be done?

Hearing aids used to be big, difficult, and expensive. But, times have changed. Like televisions and phones, hearing aids have come a long way. Smaller and smaller devices can do a lot more than simply amplify everything. Today’s digital hearing aids can analyze incoming sounds and adjust to them. If you’re trying to hear the television from across the room, that might require extra volume. However, if the waiter happens to drop a tray next to your table, a digital hearing aid can compress (soften) the loud, harsh sound of dishes crashing to the ground. This happens without any work on your part – the technology takes care of it.

However, the devices can’t do it all. It takes a little patience and training to get your brain back up to speed. When you put on a pair of prescription glasses, you immediately see things clearer. With hearing aids, it’s important to practice for a few hours a day, but then also to give your brain a break. The recommendation is to start in quieter settings, then eventually move to noisier situations as you get used to the new sounds. This article by the Better Hearing Institute offers lots of excellent tips on getting the most out of hearing aids, especially in noisy environments.

Aren’t hearing aids too expensive?

Regarding hearing aid prices, there’s still quite a range. Doctors and audiologists have business costs that they have to consider when they sell medical devices. The average price of a hearing aid from an office visit is $2300. Mail-order or web businesses, like Hearing Help Express, can evaluate your hearing over the phone if you don’t already have an audiogram. They can do a custom fitting or offer devices that work right off the shelf.

Most importantly, mail-order businesses don’t have the same overhead to consider, so the prices are significantly lower. If you buy from a company that also happens to be the manufacturer, the prices get even lower. Here at Hearing Help Express, for example, we sell the same FDA-listed devices to audiologists that we sell directly to consumers. Our most expensive model is $999. Not only that, but we also have a repair and cleaning lab on-site. We don’t ship to another lab – our Hearing Advisors handle the calls, the returns, and the repairs.

Conclusion

If you’re one of the 48 million Americans suffering from hearing loss and you were concerned that hearing aids were either too complicated or too expensive, take another look. If you’re worried about a hearing aid making you look old, consider how it looks every time you ask “can you speak up, please?”

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