Have you had your hearing checked lately?

It was a sunny Saturday morning and Mr. Stephenson was busy working through his “honey-do” list. You know… the ongoing list that wives keep for their husbands?

As per his wife’s request, Mr. Stephenson headed out to the garage, popped open the hood of their car and got to work. Tools in hand, he began loosening this screw and tightening that bolt… he had never tackled such a big project before.

After a couple hours, his wife came out to the garage. Looking puzzled and glancing around at all the car parts surrounding her husband, she asked, “What on earth are you doing out here?”

He peeked out from under the hood and replied, “I’m fixing the carburetor, just like you asked.”

“Carburetor?” she inquired, “I asked you to fix the garburator, not the carburetor!”

While laughter is truly good medicine, hearing loss is no laughing matter. Kate Dekok, Chief Audiologist of ListenUP! Canada claims that, “over 10% of Canadians suffer from some degree of hearing loss”, which makes it the most common chronic health condition after hypertension and arthritis.

“Even though hearing loss is so prevalent, only 15-20% of those affected by it choose to take advantage of the available treatments,” says Dekok. “One of the main reasons is that for most people hearing loss progresses slowly over many years. In fact, hearing often deteriorates so gradually that people don’t even realize they’ve lost it. Family members and friends usually notice a hearing loss before the individual does, and it takes an average of up to 7 years for the person to actually do something about it.”

There are many signs that indicate someone may have hearing loss. These include asking others to repeat themselves, complaining that others are mumbling, having the TV or radio volume too loud, or experiencing a ringing sensation in one or both ears. Kate explains that, “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.” 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.