Hearing Loss Myths vs. Facts

By: Kelly Warf, Au.D.

As an Audiologist, I think I’ve heard it all from patients. Let’s demystify popular hearing loss claims:

Myth: My hearing loss is normal for my age.
Fact: Yes, hearing loss does occur over time due to aging. However, that does not make any hearing loss “normal hearing for their age.” It is still hearing loss!

Myth: I’ll know when I have hearing loss.
Fact: Hearing loss due to aging can develop gradually, thus it’s impact may be difficult to detect at first. Also, hearing loss may only be evident in certain situations, leaving the individual to blame others or environments for their difficulty hearing. In quiet situations, there might be no difficulty at all communicating.

Myth: I have a mild hearing loss, but I can just tolerate it.
Fact: Even mild hearing loss can have a negative impact on quality of life. Long-term outcomes improve when hearing aids are obtained early, which reinforces the importance of seeking advice when hearing difficulties or problems are first noticed. Leaving hearing loss untreated can decrease the ability to benefit from hearing aids over the long term.

Myth: I tried hearing devices, but nothing worked for me. I’ve done enough.
Fact: Untreated hearing loss causes problems, but there is evidence that under-treated hearing loss can result in similar problems. Simple using any hearing device is not enough to get benefits or to reduce other problems from occurring. The device must be appropriately programmed to provide adequate amplification. Using a device that is inappropriate or not appropriately programmed is as bad as not seeking any treatment at all. Having a bad experience with hearing aids might prevent you from using hearing aids in the future, so seeking good care early is essential.

Myth: Can I use my spouse’s old hearing aid? Aren’t all devices the same?
Fact: It is important to accurately identify the type and degree of hearing loss to correctly select and program a device and to verify that the selected device is providing the amplification it needs to provide. The audiologist will determine the type and degree of hearing loss, as well as which devices would be appropriate to consider. Each hearing aids is fit with an individual’s hearing loss prescription. Some devices are custom made to the wearer’s ear. Some devices may be re-fit, but only under the advisement of an audiologist.

Myth: A hearing aid will solve my problems.
Fact: Hearing aids are just one aspect of managing hearing loss. Hearing aids are complex medical devices, so working with an expert who appropriately can select and program the device is key. Other assistive accessory devices also can be helpful in certain situations. Audiologists frequently will recommend aural rehabilitation or auditory training to maximize benefit from the device. Learning good communication strategies also can enhance communication experiences.

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