Hearing loss can be a hard subject to raise

Nearly everyone knows someone who struggles to hear properly, which is hardly surprising given that hearing loss is so common, but at what point does it stop being an inconvenience and become a problem that should be treated?

Sometimes people don’t realise that they have hearing loss because the deterioration in their hearing has occurred gradually. Others don’t want to acknowledge that they have a hearing problem as they think it’s a sign of getting old. As a result, it’s often you, the family member or friend, who gets the most frustrated because you can see how much they’re missing out on things.

So what can you do to help? Especially when you know your friend or loved-one doesn’t have to suffer because most hearing problems can be simply and effectively treated?

Recognising the signs of hearing loss

The first step you should take is to encourage them to have their hearing checked. The following questions will help you determine if there is a problem, but a professional hearing test is the only way to confirm a hearing loss.

• Do they complain that everybody seems to be mumbling, especially when talking on the phone?
• Do they have difficulty hearing when someone calls from behind or from another room?
• Do they find it hard to follow a conversation in meetings, in restaurants, in a car or on public transport?
• Do they listen to the TV or radio at a frustrating, abnormally loud level?
• Do they miss a lot of the dialogue when going to the theatre, cinema, or other entertainment venues?
• Do they often ask you to repeat things?

If you answered ‘yes’ to more than one or two of these questions, it’s highly likely your friend or loved-one has some hearing loss. Getting a professional hearing test is important because, as with most health conditions, the earlier they get a clear diagnosis and treatment, the better off they’re likely to be.

Most hearing loss can be treated simply and effectively

If the hearing test shows signs of hearing loss, the next step is to find the right solution. Although hearing aids can never totally restore a person’s hearing, they can usually restore their ability to communicate, which will improve the quality of life not only for them but also for the rest of the family.

You can also reassure your friend or loved-one that today’s hearing aids look nothing like their predecessors. The ‘big beige bananas’ of the past have been replaced by sleeker models that are much more attractive and, in many cases, virtually invisible to others.

Once your loved-one or friend has been fitted with hearing aids, you must encourage him or her to be patient — amplified sound can be overwhelming and very tiring because the brain has forgotten certain sounds and has to learn to listen all over again. So some people may take a few weeks to adjust.

An important step to better health

Good hearing is an integral part of good health because it allows us to interact with friends, family and colleagues and therefore stay connected.

The clinicians at AudioClinic know first-hand how much people’s lives improve when they address their hearing loss. In fact, the most amazing thing is that nearly everyone says they wish they’d done something about it sooner.

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