Adult Hearing Loss is an Underestimated Concern in Our Country

January 27 2016,  14.04 PM IST || Pocket Press Release

Authored by Neevita Narayan, Senior Audiologist & Founder, SpHear Speech & Hearing Clinic

New Delhi, 27th January, 2016 Most of us have observed elderly people in our families who are short of hearing, and need communication to be in unusually loud pitch to be able to hear; others use hearing aids to navigate through daily life. Hearing loss often comes on gradually and has been called the “hidden handicap” because unlike other disabilities it can’t be seen and people with hearing loss often are either unaware or deny that they have a problem.

Hearing Loss is more common than you might think. One out of twelve (1/12) persons in India has hearing loss. In fact, over 33% of people in their 60’s suffer from using a hearing instrument. Usually hearing loss is first noticed by others around you. Detecting and treating hearing loss early is a significant step towards improving the quality of your life. With solutions available to address this problem, hearing loss should not be considered as just another normal part of ageing and timely remedial measures must be initiated to allow a good quality of life.

Hearing helps us get the most from life. Better physical and emotional health is associated with better hearing. However, in a country with major healthcare concerns like India, the problem of hearing loss is often considered a lesser issue and its impact on the lives of people is often underestimated and understated. However, studies tell us that untreated hearing loss not just handicaps a person’s communication but also causes irritability, negativisim, anger, fatigue, tension, stress and even depression.

For a person used to normal living and communication, loss or reduction in capacity of one of the five major senses can be devastating and debilitating. Some people tend to withdraw into a shell, experience social rejection and loneliness and start avoiding social situations, leading to diminished psychological and overall health. For those who are still active in work life, loss of hearing can be traumatic and result in impaired memory, reduced ability to learn new tasks, affecting their job performance and earning power.

Another dangerous side-effect of loss of hearing is reduced alertness and a resultant increased risk to personal safety. This often curtails the independence of the affected persons, causing increased irritability and low self-esteem.

It is important, therefore, to not ignore any sign of reduced hearing capacity and immediately seek medical help. It is important to have a hearing test and have your hearing managed as soon as you suspect there may be problem.

Early rehabilitation is good rehabilitation

In most cases the loss of hearing is a very gradual process and takes place over many years. As there is no sudden change, people may not be aware of the problem until it is severe enough to cause many communication difficulties. Many notice the change but ignore it considering it a normal part of ageing. Yes, the hair cells lining our inner ear do suffer damage over time as a part of ageing, but new age technological devices can correct this loss to a substantial degree and allow for a normal life. Unfortunately, many hearing impaired people (and their families) suffer needlessly for years before seeking help. In fact, family and friends often identify a hearing difficulty before the sufferer.

The longer a person ignores the problem, the more difficult the adjustment will be when hearing aids are eventually worn. Equally, personal relationships need not suffer when early intervention is available. Communication is the cornerstone of our society and interpersonal relationships. Effective communication is also an essential ingredient in the quality of our lives. We should all aim to enjoy the best quality of life. Acting early to address any hearing difficulties is paramount to success.

Lost sounds

There are certain areas of the brain that process speech sounds. The ability to understand speech may deteriorate over time if the brain is not receiving all the speech sounds. The longer a person ignores the problem, the more difficult the adjustments to hearing aids. Studies suggest that we can benefit from using all sounds that may be available from amplification.

Better health for hearing aid users

Hearing well allows us to communicate with our family and friends and keeps us in contact with the sounds of life that surround us 24 hours a day. When a hearing impaired person only hears part of a conversation and has difficulty understanding speech, this can cause the person to withdraw. So, a hearing impairment can cut down on the richness of experiencing life and restricts social interactions.

Not only improvement in the quality of life comes from better hearing skills, individuals with managed hearing loss also enjoy better physical and psychological health. If you have an elderly family member who experiences difficulty in hearing normal sounds, do not ignore the condition or wait for it to deteriorate. Consult and expert immediately.

                    Tips to Prevent & Limit Hearing Loss

Authored by Ms Neevita Narayan, Audiologist & Founder, SpHear Speech & Hearing Clinics

Not all hearing-impaired people are born such. Some people may suffer from hearing loss during their lifetime due to a number of factors. As we age, changes in the inner ear and its functions often cause age-related hearing loss which manifests in the elderly’s reduced ability to hear. At the same time, some people experience noise-induced hearing loss which is a result of either sudden exposure to very loud noise or prolonged exposure to high decibel noise.

Here are some tips to ensure you retain your hearing ability well for a long time in life:

Ø  Avoid exposure to loud noise. For this it is important to understand the sound levels of your environment. If you need to shout to be heard or stretch your ears to hear somebody lose to you, you are in an environment that is too loud for the ears. Try to avoid such places or minimize time spent there. For example, discotheques, music concerts etc

Ø  Wear earplugs if you spend long hours in traffic. Traffic honking is another form of loud noise that doesn’t bode well for the ears. If you spend a long time stuck in traffic every day, start wearing earplugs.

Ø  You are the most prone to noise induced hearing loss if you work in high noise places like construction sites, factories, discotheques etc. Make sure you religiously wear  protective ear plugs if you work in such an environment

Ø  Take breaks between loud noises. If the noise around you is too much to bear, make sure you give your ears regular break from such environment.

Ø  Avoid using earphones to hear loud music. Hearing loud music on earphones is a worrisome widespread development in recent years. Limit the use of earphone and if you use it, make sure the music is played at moderate levels.

Ø  Report any discrepancy to an audiologist/ doctor immediately. Any pain in the ear, or ringing or buzzing sound in the ear or reduced hearing ability must be immediately reported to a doctor.