Around one in six Australians have some form of hearing loss, with this number expected to rise in the next couple of decades. The growing statistic can be put down to an aging population – hearing loss occurs naturally as we age – but many more young people will fall into this category than we’ve seen in the past. This is due to today’s prolific use of technology and how we consume music and other audio forms of entertainment through our smartphone and earbuds. Another common and preventable cause of hearing loss is excessive noise in the workplace. Although many industries are getting better at implementing the right safety policies and procedures, these are only as good as the individual following them!
If we asked a bunch of Australians if they have hearing loss, the number who agree they do would look a lot lower than one in six. This is simply due to the fact that many of us don’t actually know we have a hearing problem! The last person to notice a hearing loss is often the person themselves, as it can be very gradual. It’s a lot more common for your partner, friends and family to notice first, as difficulties arise in communication between you.
Once the issue has been raised, it can then be fear of the unknown that stops some people from getting a professional assessment for their hearing. The average length of time between noticing a hearing problem and seeking treatment is seven years! Unlike the doctor or dentist, a hearing health clinic might not be a place you’ve necessarily been before. But that first step doesn’t have to be the hardest!
What you might not know is that sooner you treat a hearing loss, the better your outcome will be. This is because the brain works like a muscle – it needs constant stimulation to stay healthy. When the brain stops hearing certain sounds, it can actually ‘forget’ how to attribute meaning to them, making communication difficult. Hearing aids as a treatment option can absolutely help your ears and brain to work together again effectively. The sooner they can begin the journey, the better the result. So, don’t delay taking action!
It’s as simple as jumping online and locating a hearing loss specialist near you, and booking an appointment. Or, pick up the phone for a chat.
On the day of your appointment, you’re able to bring your partner or other support person if this makes you feel more comfortable. When you arrive, you’ll meet the hearing specialist who will be looking after you, and you’ll most likely be surprised and delighted in how comfortable an audiology clinic looks and feels – they’re not at all scary!
Your hearing specialist will spend some time with you chatting about why you’ve come in, your lifestyle and what you do for a job, if you work. These are the first bases they need to cover to learn more about your hearing concerns.
Then, it’s on to some tests. Which, are non-invasive and painless! Your hearing specialist will examine your ears using an otoscope, which allows them to gently look inside the ear. You’ve probably had your doctor use one of these if you’ve ever experienced an ear infection.
In a pure tone audiometry test, you’ll listen to a range of sounds, of different pitches and volumes, usually wearing a set of headphones. A speech discrimination test involves a series of words played to you, and you’ll need to repeat or select the one you heard.
Your hearing specialist will share any results with you and explain what they mean. If they can confirm you do have a hearing loss, they’ll be able to discuss the specific type of hearing loss and potential treatments. Each treatment plan will be completely individual to a patient, and can be customised to lifestyle, employment and even budget.
Hearing aids might form part of your hearing specialist’s recommendations, and this can come as a bit of a shock! But today’s hearing aids aren’t the brown banana-looking types you might have seen on your grandparents. Technology has come a long way, and continues to get better, so it might surprise you to know that modern hearing aids come in loads of shapes, colours and styles. There are even styles that sit completely within the ear canal, and are pretty much invisible to anyone else. Please don’t let the fear of ‘looking old’ or ‘standing out’ become a barrier. In fact, you’re more likely to stick out in a group if your hearing loss is untreated!
Your hearing health specialist will be happy to answer any questions you have about hearing aid technology or any other treatment recommendations. It’s worth noting that your hearing concerns could even be as simple as a build-up of wax. But it’s something you won’t know until you pop down to your clinic.
Whatever the outcome, taking action is the best thing you can do. You’ll likely leave your appointment with a smile and breathing a big sigh of relief knowing you’re so much closer to living your best life!
Ready to have your hearing health checked? Find your closest Advanced Hearing Aid Centre clinic here.