Living with Hearing Loss

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					                  Living with Hearing Loss
                                                                      Leigh Biagio

Hearing loss can happen to anyone at any age of life.

The person may be a child falling behind in school because he is not
hearing properly and is unable to follow the class discussion; a
grandparent, who no longer enjoys his grandchildren's company
because their speech doesn't seem clear and their voices seem so
quiet. Or the person may be a colleague who is hiding her hearing
loss, her difficulty on the phone or at meetings, and feels her job is in

Perhaps the person is married and a parent, realising that
communication with the spouse and children is breaking down,
misunderstandings are on the rise, everyone is irritable and tired of
repeating comments. Communication difficulties have a tremendous
impact on the entire family.

Hearing loss occurs for many reasons such as:
•        Some people lose their hearing slowly as they age. This is
                                                                                            Your treatment will depend on
         called presbycusis. Doctors do not know what causes

         presbycusis, but it seems to run in families.
         Exposure to too much loud noise. This causes noise-
                                                                                               your hearing loss, so some
         induced hearing loss, which is often accompanied by
         ringing in the ears, called tinnitus. Construction workers,                           treatments will work better
         farmers, musicians, carpenters, and people who served in
         the army or hunt have hearing problems because of
         excessively loud noise.
                                                                                                      for you than others.
•        Hearing loss can also be caused by a virus or bacteria,
         heart conditions or stroke, head injuries, tumours and               What can my family and friends do?
         certain medicines.                                                   You and your family can work together to make hearing easier.
                                                                              •        Tell your friends and family about your hearing loss.
What should I do?                                                                      The more you tell the people you spend time with, the
Consult an audiologist to test your hearing. By the end of the                         more they can help you.
appointment you will know if you do in fact have hearing loss, what           •        Hearing aids do not restore normal hearing. Due to the
the degree of the loss is, where the problem lies, whether it is                       damage of the hair cells in the cochlear, when a person
permanent or whether it can be treated, and what can be done if it is                  has a hearing loss their ability to discriminate speech
irreversible. Your treatment will depend on your hearing loss, so some                 sounds is affected, even when a hearing aid makes the
treatments will work better for you than others. Hearing aids are one                  sounds louder. The person with a hearing loss has to
of the possible solutions.                                                             learn to filter out the noise and discriminate what is
                                                                                       being said, which takes practice and perseverance.
Living with hearing loss                                                      •        Ask your friends and family to face you when they talk
Family, friends and people at work may be just as bothered by your                     so that you can see their faces. The better the lighting
hearing loss as you are. They may be impatient because they have to                    in the room the easier this will be.
repeat what they say. They can't communicate with you by phone the            •        Ask people to speak louder, but not to shout. Tell them
way they used to. You miss out on whispered affections. They feel at a                 they do not have to talk slowly or overemphasise, just
loss to help.                                                                          more clearly. Rephrase a misunderstood sentence
                                                                                       rather than continuing to repeat the same sentence.
Most people with normal hearing think that having a hearing loss              •        Turn off the TV or radio if it does not have to be on.
means a lack of volume or that being deaf means there is no sound.            •        Be aware of noise around you that can make hearing
Hearing loss is much more complicated than that.                                       more difficult. When you go to a restaurant, do not sit
                                                                                       near the kitchen or near the music. Background noise
A person with a high pitched hearing loss will be able to hear speech,                 makes it hard to hear people talk.
but it will be unclear or difficult to understand. Some speech sounds,        •        Large groups will be difficult for people with hearing
like the b, d, n, m and vowels are heard perfectly, while only high                    loss. Try to include the person with hearing loss.
pitched speech sounds, like f, s, th, t, c, p are not heard. This person
will also be able to hear in a one-to-one situation, but struggles in a       This article was written and compiled by Leigh Biagio, an audiologist
group or in the presence of background noise.                                 at Intercare Silver Lakes. Phone her at 012 809 6110 should you have
                                                                              any questions about hearing loss.

                                                                                                                      Mooikloof • Issue 7, 2009 • 11