This is part three of a three-part series on hearing loss and the relationship of the three primary elements, or the Trinity of players, involved in facilitating hearing as efficiently as possible. This Trinity includes the family, the hearing-impaired person and the hearing health-care provider.
“Blindness cuts us off from things; deafness cuts us off from people.”
What is the big deal about hearing loss?
Most humans need to communicate every day, many times a day. Communication is what connects us to people. The significant impact of hearing loss on communication and interaction with others is that, when a hearing loss is gradual, it will sometimes go unrecognized by the family members and some health care practitioners as well. However, if a person has a sudden change in hearing, it is very apparent and everyone is interested in finding out why the hearing changed and what can be done about it. With gradual hearing loss, family and co-workers assume the hearing-impaired person just does not care to communicate anymore and gets frustrated with them.
Coping with hearing loss is different from other disabilities because it is an invisible handicap. The reactions or behaviors associated with hearing loss may not be apparent, and even the sight of a hearing aid doesn’t guarantee recognition of a difficulty. Many times, if someone sees a hearing aid, they will assume that the hearing aids make the individual hear normally. Another assumption is that if you see a hearing aid, you need to yell at the person!
What caused this hearing loss?
Hearing loss can be caused by exposure to noise, damage to the auditory nerve, ear infections, blood infections, ear canal wax build-up and aging. It can be caused by changes in the blood supply to the ear because of heart disease, high blood pressure or diabetes. Other causes are head injuries, tumors, side effects from some medicines, including aspirin and even some antibiotics.
Who needs to be involved with the treatment of hearing loss?
Family-centered care is a common buzz word for medical providers working with a pediatric population. However, when working with hearing loss, it is equally as important to focus on the entire home and work environment with adults as well. The family will need to learn how to communicate the best way possible and learn tricks of the trade, so to speak, so they can take advantage of the hearing that their loved one does have. The physician will want to evaluate for any medical issues that may be contributing to the hearing loss. The audiologist will need to evaluate the degree and type of hearing the individual has and make recommendations that take into account the family’s normal daily activities and special events.
How do I find an audiologist to help with my hearing loss?
Select an audiologist you are comfortable talking to and working with. This may seem to be a given, but some professionals are just easier to talk to than others. Take a family member with you and go interview a few prospective audiologists. Call their office and ask to schedule a consultation. The manner and openness the audiologist has with you and your family will be evident during that short visit. The audiologist you select needs to be patient with you and allow you to discuss what is going on and how you and your family are affected by the hearing loss. The relationship you establish with the audiologist may determine how successful you are with understanding and managing your hearing needs.
In closing, it is important to be mindful of the Trinity of parties involved in the management of hearing loss and what part you are playing. You should now be better equipped to help your loved one, or, if you have the hearing loss, help your family understand the common issues faced on a day-to-day basis. It is all about teamwork!
By Dr. Karon Lynn, Au.D
Trinity Hearing Center is located at 1330 N. Rim Dr., Suite B in Flagstaff. For more information, visit the website at TrinityHearing.net. Karon Lynn is a doctor of audiology with 30 years of experience working with hearing impaired individuals. Dr. Lynn may be reached at 928-522-0500, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.