‘People don’t even realise they’re losing their hearing’


Article first appeared in the irish Independent April 2012

 “I test peoples’ hearing and diagnose any problems that they may be experiencing.

“When I see someone, I first determine whether there are any medical factors contributing to a hearing problem, such as ear-wax blocking the ear canal – the ear wax must be removed by their GP. “People may also have an infection in their ear canal, and this too is something for which they must be referred to their doctor. “Some are visible, such as ear-wax blockages or infections. There can also be more serious problems such as a disease of the ear canal, of which there are many.

“Hearing Action Week, which took place last month, is an all-Island awareness campaign highlighting the issue of hearing loss.”

 “Very often people don’t notice hearing loss because it’s not painful. Generally it’s the people around the person who notice that the person has the TV on very loud, or that the person is missing out on parts of a conversation or withdrawing in social settings.

“Today I saw a man who’d been suffering from hearing loss for more than 15 years.
“The man, who is in his sixties, was struggling to hear what people were saying both in the workplace and at home, and was also experiencing difficulty hearing the TV or the radio.
“He recently attended a meeting where he couldn’t hear the speaker.

“When he came in to see me, he explained that he had wanted to attend a theatre performance recently but had decided against it purely on the basis that his hearing was poor.
“His hearing had been diminishing so slowly that he barely noticed it was getting worse. “I took a case history and then tested him. I found that he had a severe hearing impairment in high frequencies.
“This meant he was unable to hear the beginnings and ends of words. He was unable to hear consonants unless someone was standing in front of him, because then he could get visual confirmation of what was being said.
However if someone turned their back on him, he was unable to understand what was being said.

“I gave this man a full audio-metric test which involved measuring his hearing threshold for different sounds. His threshold for low frequency sounds such as vowel sounds was very good but the threshold for high frequencies was very poor.
“The hearing loss had resulted from nerve damage which could not be medically repaired.

“I demonstrated a hearing system which was very specific to his requirements. It was programmed to rectify the problem – in the last five years there have been massive improvements in the quality of hearing aid systems.
“They are very discreet and more importantly, they replicate normal hearing very effectively. I fitted the technology and together we walked to Cork’s English Market.
This is a very busy place with high ceilings and very poor acoustics – a very challenging environment for someone with poor hearing.
“The client man was amazed at the difference in his hearing and said he had never realised how bad his hearing had become.
I also saw a *young girl of about 12. She had come in with her mother, following a warning from her school principal about her school performance.
This girl was already using a hearing aid system, but when I investigated, I discovered that it was somewhat out of date.
“It emerged emerge that the girl was not getting sufficient clarity from her hearing system and was falling behind in school.”

“I fitted her with a new device.  On subsequent visits, her mother indicated that her academic performance had improved significantly.”

“I find generally that clients are delighted by the efficiency of the technology and that 99.9% wish  they had done something earlier.”

For further information contact Hidden Hearing.

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