Are two hearing aids really better than one?

Hearing loss affects more than 10% of all Canadians, which includes 25% of Zoomers over the age of 45, and 60% of Zoomers over the age of 65. As a result, hearing loss is considered the number one disability in Canada, and almost everyone will be affected by it at some point in their lives.

Yet remarkably, more than 80% of those affected by hearing loss suffer needlessly without a hearing aid. Reason being that hearing loss often progresses slowly over many years and family members and friends usually notice it before the individual does.

“Hearing loss is a normal part of growing older… and wiser! The earlier it is diagnosed and treated, the easier it is to return to normal levels of communication with family, friends and co-workers,” reassures Dekok.

“Most people with a treatable hearing loss will benefit greatly from wearing hearing aids… two to be exact! This allows for balanced hearing and comfortable communication in a variety of everyday situations. You will achieve better hearing in noisy environments, such as a restaurant; improved localization to determine where a sound is coming from, such as an emergency vehicle; and appreciate a fuller, more comfortable sound… from the crickets in your backyard to the symphony orchestra at the theatre.”

Another advantage of wearing two hearing aids is the reduced effects tinnitus — commonly described as a ringing sensation in the ears when no external sound is present. It is estimated that 5 million Canadians suffer from tinnitus but many report that their condition is less noticeable while wearing hearing aids. This is because hearing aids amplify the sounds that you want to hear, thus allowing you to better cope with unwanted sounds, such as tinnitus.

There are many signs that indicate someone may have hearing loss. These include tinnitus as described above, having the TV or radio volume too loud, asking others to repeat themselves or complaining that others are mumbling. “People with hearing loss often find that they can hear when someone is talking, but may not understand what is being said. In other words, the volume is okay, but they’re lacking clarity,” says Dekok. Anyone experiencing one or more of these factors may have some degree of hearing loss.

The short and long-term effects of untreated hearing loss can permeate every aspect of someone’s life. It can lead to anxiety, depression and typically self-imposed social isolation. It can also create some very stressful situations. For example, can you hear and understand what your doctor is advising you? Can you understand what your grandchildren are saying? In a meeting, theatre or religious gathering — can you hear the speaker clearly? Because of such situations, someone with untreated hearing loss will typically withdraw from interacting with others. Plus there are also very real consequences relating to personal safety. For example, can the doorbell or telephone be heard? What about a fire alarm?

“Clients often report feeling ‘silly’ or ‘stupid’ because they have difficulty following conversations and do not want to keep asking someone to repeat themselves. As a result, they often guess what is being said and hope they answer correctly, or they just nod and smile in agreement,” says Dekok.

The good news is that most hearing loss is treatable, and that hearing aids have improved significantly over the last few years. The National Council on Aging determined that when someone is fitted with hearing aids, not only do they reduce stress and anxiety, but they also improve self-esteem and overall quality of life. “Our hearing connects us with the world around us, and restoring that connection can positively affect every aspect of life,” assures Dekok, who recommends all adults get their hearing checked every 1-2 years.

Article courtesy of ListenUP! Canada.