Hearing Loss and Quality of Life-part one

 

 

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I have been hard of hearing since 1958. I received masses of doses of streptomycin for a digestive disease that a doctor THOUGHT I had. When I spoke to a gastroenterologist some 38 years later, he told me that it was doubtful that I had this particular disease. Streptomycin wiped out my the cells of my 8th acoustic nerve. When my dad called my name from a very short distance on one summer day, I did not respond. My back was turned to him but I just could not hear him. My parents were worried. An eminent otologist or ear specialist confirmed that I had the permanent experience of sensorineural hearing loss from a very dangerous drug which is no longer used. So, I have been told.

What can I tell you about hearing loss; my additional experiences with hearing loss. I have experienced psychological effects from it. I was taunted as a child because I wore a hearing aid when other kids did not. Nor did they really understand why. As an adult, I have a tendency to speak louder than usual and most of the time, I am not even aware of it. I have had issues in the past of wearing one from a “body image” standpoint. It bothers ne that I miss out at conversation in a crowded noisy restaurant. However, if I did not wear one, I would miss out on a lot of things going on in the world: positive and negative. I would not be able to listen to music, watch TV programs or experience the sounds of firecrackers on July 4th annually. So what do you do if you think you might be experiencing hearing loss?

First of all, do not ignore hearing loss and believe that it is temporary or will go away. Even if it stays the same, it could get progressively worse over time.

Second, work to get over the fear or feeling that people will make fun of you-SHAME ON THEM-It is there problem. Feeling vain or self-conscious-do not feel that way. You are taking the initial steps to deal with your hearing loss.

Third, make an appointment with a licensed audiologist who holds a Au.D (Doctor oF Audiology) degree. Check your local telephone directory or go online, you will find one. I have absolutely no problem with an audiologist who has a Master’s degree (as well as a Certificate of Clinical Competence).  Those with masters degrees obviously have the knowledge and clinical ability but it seems that the Aud.D is the “gold seal ” in my opinion.  There are hearing instrument specialists (HIS) but I also feel that they do not have the education or the expertise at the level of doctoral trained audiologists. Your audiologist will perform audiometry or hearing testing and make the necessary recommendations regarding the most appropriate hearing instrument contingent on your loss.

Fourth, recognize and celebrate the fact that if you need a hearing aid, it will improve the quality of your life. It is wonderful to go to a movie and NOT miss the dialogue between actors nor will you have to ask your spouse or significant other about what was said. It is delightful to hear sounds that you may not ever hear before.

Fifth, contingent on your loss, know that you  have a variety of hearing aid options. You can wear an instrument that can be inserted into the ear canal without the need for external tubing and a separate mold. With a severe loss, such an instrument probably will not provide enough gain or power. You can get aids that will fit into the temples of eyeglasses and be very “not-noticeable” There are aids of different colors. Some that can blend in with your hair color.

Sixth, avail yourself of other assistive technology services that are intended for those who experience hearing loss. There are now regular and smart ( cell) phones that are manufactured by Great Call that those who are hard of hearing can use. In the second part, I will discuss other related topics such as the care of hearing aids, other technological aids and support organizations.

MEDICAL TERMINOLOGY:

Presbyacusis-reduced ability to discriminate, as well as, perceive sounds, as a component of the aging process.

Acoustic neuroma-benign tumor derived from the Schwann Cells of the 8th acoustic or auditory nerve.