Hearing loss: don’t hide from it

One in six Australians have a hearing problem, with the number set to rise.
One in six Australians have a hearing problem, with the number set to rise.

One in six Australians have a hearing problem, with the number set to rise in coming decades. 

And yet for many people it takes others, such as partners, carers, children or colleagues, to point out they might have a hearing issue.

Many shrug it off, try to carry on as normal or deny there is a problem, it seems.

Better Hearing Australia (Vic) – the state’s only independent hearing advocacy and consumer advice organisation – says that after first noticing a hearing loss, people tend to wait an average of seven years before seeking help.

After first noticing a hearing loss, people tend to wait an average of seven years before seeking help.

Better Hearing Victoria

If you have hearing loss, you may feel people are mumbling or have difficulty hearing in background noise such as at restaurants.

You may also have trouble hearing on the phone and friends or family may report that you aren’t hearing them properly. Perhaps you sometimes don’t hear the telephone or doorbell ring.

If you’re caring for someone who you think may have hearing loss, they may have the TV on too loud for others or say they can’t hear you properly.

If you feel you may have a problem Better Hearing advises you to: 

- Have your hearing checked regularly (every 12 months over the age of 50) by an audiologist. 

- Use communication strategies such as making sure you can clearly see people’s faces, and reducing the distance between you and the person you are speaking to.

- Look after your general health

- Wear hearing protection for loud music and when using power tools etc.

- Talk to your audiologist about using assistive listening devices to make the TV or phone easier to hear, or the doorbell louder

- If you do get a hearing aid, persevere with it.

There are various kinds of hearing loss. Deafness can be partial or permanent. While the latter cannot be medically treated, hearing aids are usually successful.

Tinnitus is due to damage in the auditory system. It may start because of damage to the inner ear, but it is generated in the brain.

Problems that can occur due to unmanaged hearing loss can include decreased quality of life, social isolation and strained relationships.

It can also lead to increased tiredness, loss of confidence, anxiety and depression, and increased risk of dementia

Details: Better Hearing Australia (Vic), (03) 9510-1577, (TTY)  (03) 9510-3499, betterhearing.org.au

This story Don’t ignore hearing loss first appeared on The Senior.