SOURCE: Phonak

March 03, 2010 09:00 ET

Three Myths About Hearing Loss

MISSION, KS--(Marketwire - March 3, 2010) -  (Family Features) Hearing loss is one of the most common conditions in the world. Yet there are a number of misperceptions about hearing loss which lead many to let it go untreated.

The Better Hearing Institute found that only 4 in 10 people with moderate-to-severe hearing loss use hearing aids. Many waited nearly seven years after they initially learned about their hearing loss to obtain a hearing aid, and that was after they'd lost so much hearing that their quality of life was affected. Hearing loss can create social and emotional barriers for the individuals living with it, or the families of those it affects. Research shows that when left untreated, hearing loss can lead to reduced earning power, disruptions in family life and can cause a wide range of other psychological problems. 

According to a survey conducted by Hear the World, a global initiative by leading hearing system manufacturer Phonak, frustration (46.8 percent), isolation (45.3 percent), and fear (36.8 percent) were the feelings most often associated with untreated hearing loss.

"What I see in my practice is that the unnecessary fear and frustration associated with hearing loss and hearing aids is often accompanied by a lack of information about ways to prevent or solutions available to treat the condition," said Dr. Kasper. "This is unfortunate given that hearing loss is a condition that can be treated with great benefit for the individual, as well as for society."

Myth: Hearing loss only affects the elderly
Fact: Only 35 percent of people with hearing loss are over age 64. In fact, it affects all age groups.

  • The number of Americans with hearing loss has grown to more than 34 million -- roughly 11 percent of the U.S. population.
  • In the United States, more than one million school-aged children have hearing problems.
  • According to the National Institutes of Health, nearly 26 million Americans have high-frequency hearing loss that may have been caused by exposure to loud noise at work or in leisure activities.

Activities that put people at risk for noise-induced hearing loss include target shooting, hunting, snowmobile riding, woodworking and other hobbies, playing in a band and attending rock concerts. Harmful noises at home may come from lawnmowers, leaf blowers, and shop tools.

Myth: If I have a hearing loss, my doctor would have told me.
Fact: According to the Better Hearing Institute, only 15 percent of physicians routinely screen for hearing loss during a physical. And without special training, it may be difficult for your doctor to realize the extent of your hearing problem.

Do you:

  • Have trouble hearing over the telephone?
  • Often ask people to repeat what they are saying?
  • Find it hard to follow conversations when two or more people are talking?
  • Think that others seem to mumble?
  • Have a problem hearing because of background noise?
  • Have trouble understanding when women and children speak to you?

If you answered yes to three or more of these questions, visit a hearing healthcare professional and get properly tested.

Myth: Hearing aids are big and uncomfortable.
Fact: Hearing aid design and technology has developed significantly in recent years.

"Hearing loss and the solutions available to treat it have long been misunderstood," said Dr. Craig Kasper, chief audiology officer of Audio Help Associates of Manhattan. "Hearing aids have come a long way and it is important to the well-being of those with hearing loss that these misperceptions be addressed. In fact, recent technology advances have made it possible for those who need a hearing aid to wear their devices with ease and confidence."

Today's hearing aids work with digital technology and are equipped with powerful computer chips, ensuring better sound quality, wireless connectivity, modern design and ever smaller dimensions to help users wear their hearing aids with minimal detection.

Good hearing plays a crucial part in quality of life. Don't let myths about hearing loss keep you from enjoying what life has to offer. For an online hearing test and to locate a hearing health professional in your area, visit www.hear-the-world.com.

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