COLORADO SPRINGS — If you spent time around family or loved ones over the holidays, you may have noticed someone not hearing you as well as they used to. Part of the reason might be is because when a person suffers gradual hearing loss, they are often the last to notice.
What are some of the common signs of hearing loss? Stacey Longoria, Au.D. a Doctor of Audiology with Hearing Consultants in Colorado Springs says, “The most common (sign of hearing loss) and what everybody typically notices is someone saying, ‘Huh or What?’ or asking somebody to repeat themselves is pretty common. Another sign is seeing someone withdrawing from environments, because oftentimes patients with hearing loss will avoid certain environments or situations because it causes them to be anxious, or worried, that they're not going to be able to hear.”
Longoria says it can be mentally exhausting for people dealing with hearing loss, “It can be very exhausting for someone with hearing loss to always work to fill in the pieces of the puzzle when they're not understanding what is being said. They might sit back in their chair and essentially give up in a conversation. You may also notice they are answering something completely different than what had been asked of them.”
Longoria says the emotional impact of hearing difficulties can go deeper. “I had a patient recently say that hearing loss is very isolating, because they are anxious to go out into certain places, because they don't want to put themselves in an uncomfortable position where they can’t hear. Then you are not allowing yourself to do those things that you enjoy and that can lead to depression which is also very common for someone with hearing loss.”
Longoria says she knows exactly what it’s like to see a loved one deal with hearing loss and put off getting help. “My dad had hearing loss for years and didn't want to address it. He had to be ready for [help] because hearing loss is just like anything else, you go through a grieving process, then denial, then acceptance. My dad was in those shoes, and before we could get him hearing aids, he had to be ready for them.”
Longoria also says that’s why letting a loved one know they are losing their hearing can be a tricky conversation. “I think you need to be very sensitive (approaching the topic) because of that grieving process. A lot of patients aren't willing to accept it, so I think letting them know that you want them to be healthy and to have the best quality of life that they can is important. That way they enjoy being around others and involved with life.”
And when it comes to seeing an ear doctor, Longoria says there are ways to be supportive. “You can say, ’Let me go with you,’ or ‘Let's go and get an idea of where your hearing is at.’ Taking a full hearing diagnostic doesn't necessarily mean that you have to do anything right then.”
Having a baseline of your hearing level as you age can be extremely helpful for knowing when a hearing aid could increase your quality of life in significant ways. It’s another reason to not put off seeing an audiologist - which Longoria says happens all too often.
“I think that most patients put off hearing loss and treatment because it may make them feel like they're their aging, and it's really not about that. It's really about your hearing system as a whole and how we can address that when someone’s not hearing well.”
In a future story, Longoria will walk us through exactly what to expect during a comprehensive hearing diagnostic and everything that is involved. If you have any questions about your hearing, feel free to contact Hearing Consultants in Colorado Spirngs. You can visit their website (HERE)
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