Health checkup: Hearing loss can be remediedPosted on November 21, 2013 by ElderCare Resources Phoenix in Blog, Hearing Loss, Independent Living, Medical Supplies, Medicare / Medicaid
Most people think of Arnold Palmer as a legendary golfer, businessman, and a high-profile commercial spokesperson. Did you know that he has hearing loss and has used hearing aids for at least 30 years?
Current estimates suggest at least 28 million Americans have some degree of hearing loss. Though most people associate hearing loss with aging, it can occur at any stage of life. Estimates suggest that 12 out of every 1,000 people with hearing loss are under the age of 18. More surprising to many is the fact that hearing loss is often cited as one of, if not the most, common types of birth defect.
The type of hearing loss that occurs gradually over time — and typically in both ears — is called presbycusis. Many people refer to this as age-related hearing loss. The slow, progressive nature of presbycusis means that people with this type of hearing loss often do not realize how much information they are missing, until the degree of loss becomes significant.
Most types of hearing loss (including presbycusis) begin in the high-frequency regions of the ear, where most soft, consonant, sounds are located, and slowly creep down into the lower frequency regions, where most loud, vowel sounds occur. Due to this, many people with presbycusis will often note that they “hear things, but can’t understand” what is being said.
Palmer has given multiple interviews regarding his hearing loss and hearing-aid use. In addition, his long-term experience with hearing aids has allowed him to appreciate advancements in the field.
“When I compare the new digital products to what we had 30 years ago, it’s an amazing difference. The products have improved dramatically, and fortunately they’ll just continue to get better,” Palmer said in an interview with Audiology Online. He also commented on how hearing aids affect his golf game in that, using amplification, “… sound better represents what I know is happening to the ball. So you could say the hearing aids give me confidence regarding my golf game.”
Hearing loss has been shown to negatively impact quality of life and mental health status in various age groups. Depression rates and withdrawal from social activities are known to be elevated in people with untreated hearing loss. Fortunately, better performing, more comfortable and cosmetically appealing amplification options are reducing the stigma associated with hearing loss.
Hopefully Palmer’s experience, and that of many other satisfied users of hearing amplification, combined with technological advancements, will influence more people with hearing loss to take action.
In most cases, the actual hearing loss is more obvious than hearing aids are. Understanding and admitting to hearing loss is a huge step toward successful hearing aid use.
Written by Christy Monczynski Hopson
Audiologist Dr. Christy Monczynski Hopson is the Director of Clinical Services for the University of Rochester Medical Center Audiology Department and URMC Audiology at Highland Hospital. She is a member of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.