Jason isn’t your stereotypical patient

leftManJason noticed it was harder to hear those talking around him. After some prodding from his wife, he went to an audiologist. He learned he had mild sloping to high frequency hearing loss. His audiologist suggested hearing aids. Immediately, he thought of the big, clunky ones he associated with "old people." He wasn’t old.

He wasn’t even 40. He drives a Harley, for goodness sake. "The staff was so knowledgeable and provided great information about the different kinds of products," said Jason. Jason was fitted with a premium digital CIC (Completely In the Canal) hearing aids.

"Hearing aids today are not like those bulky ones of the past. Mine are small and unnoticeable," he continued. Like many with hearing loss, Jason’s loss was gradual. "I didn’t realize how much information I was missing until I started wearing hearing aids." Because the effects of hearing loss can be so gradual, most people do not even go see a doctor until they’ve experienced symptoms for more than five years. For many, there’s a stigma associated with having a hearing aid. To that, Jason suggests, "give it a try. The most you could lose is what you haven’t heard."

For Crystal, hearing didn’t always come naturally.

Crystal is 22 years old and wears hearing aids. She suffers from a genetic disorder that has affected her hearing since childhood.

"I was 17 when I got hearing aids. I couldn’t believe the things I could finally hear." She wore her hair down over her ears for five months because she was embarrassed. "It was difficult for me to get comfortable with wearing them. Eventually it just became a part of me." Crystal wears basic digital CICs. They are so tiny it is almost impossible to see them. Her advice for others considering hearing aids: "you’ll be amazed at what you were missing."

There are many reasons why people suffer from hearing loss. It is important, if you are experiencing symptoms, to see an M.D. A doctor can diagnose your condition and provide unbiased advice on whether or not a hearing aid will be the right solution.

How do you talk to someone about hearing loss?

Often, the last person to know they have hearing loss is the person who needs help. Here are some suggested tips to help broach the subject.

  1. Kindness. Approach in a loving manner. Avoid negative statements that make this "their problem." Many times, we get frustrated with loved ones and snap at them. Rather, pick a time when you are calm and can discuss the subject with compassion. Emphasize how much you care for them and want to help.
  2. Empathy. Acknowledge the negative associations they may have with hearing loss, including old age, a perception of not being as strong or capable, feeling more vulnerable, or an assumption that there is no help. It’s important they know you understand their concerns.
  3. Validate. Validate they can hear well in some situations. It’s NOT selective hearing. Rather, it’s situational. Things such as good acoustics and quiet areas with no background noise can improve hearing without them realizing it. Help them understand that this "situational hearing" can be a symptom.
  4. Suggest. Taking action and get a hearing test. Suggest they take our hearing assessment – HearingQuestionaire.pdf – or visit a doctor to learn more.
  5. Assure. A hearing test does not mean the person has to purchase hearing aids, but can provide a baseline hearing level and counseling for the person and family members.