The Hearing Loss Information You Need and the St. Paul, MN Services to Correct It
Hearing Loss Is More Complex than Just Not Being Able to Hear
Helen Keller is often quoted as saying, “I am just as deaf as I am blind. The problems of deafness are deeper and more complex, if not more important than those of blindness. Deafness is a much worse misfortune. For it means the loss of the most vital stimulus—the sound of the voice that brings language, sets thoughts astir, and keeps us in the intellectual company of man.Blindness separates us from things, but deafness separates us from people.”
Those words have true meaning to the millions of people who suffer from some degree of hearing loss. If you are one of those people, you are most certainly not alone.
Here are some statistics recently cited by the Better Hearing Institute:
- 10% of Americans have a hearing loss
- 15% of “Baby Boomers” (age 45–64) have hearing loss
- 29% of people over the age of 65 have hearing loss
- The majority (65%) of people with hearing loss are below retirement age
- The majority (60%) of people with hearing loss are males
- There is a 400% increase in 8th graders with hearing loss than found just 10 years ago
- 90% of hearing aid users report improvements in their quality of life
- Hard-of-hearing people are less likely to be discriminated against if they use hearing aids
- People who use hearing aids report better health than hard-of-hearing people who do not wear hearing aids
- One of the best ways to get a loved one to seek help for their hearing is to stop being a hearing helper!
Impact to You, Your Family, and Friends
The above evidence paints a pretty clear picture that says you are not alone if you are experiencing some degree of hearing loss. But there’s more to the story.
Hearing loss not only impacts the individual, but it also impacts everyone else with whom they interact. As people begin to experience the limitations of hearing loss, their world tends to diminish in a variety of ways.
- They begin to do fewer social activities because they cannot hear what is being said and are embarrassed or agitated by the fact that they can’t contribute to or be a part of the conversation.
- They begin to stop doing those things they enjoy because without their hearing the enjoyment is gone. It could include concerts and music, plays and music, bird watching, playing cards and table games, hunting, sports . . . almost every aspect of life is affected!
- They may watch television or listen to the radio by themselves because the volume they need is just uncomfortable for those around them.
In a nutshell, their world begins to shrink and they begin to live life alone.
The impact to their friends and family is also significant, for others may begin to avoid this person because of the changes in their behavior and emotional responses that are far from what the norm used to be.
And the Good News Is…
Most hearing situations can be greatly improved with the ongoing advancements that are being introduced to hearing aids and other hearing instruments today.
The first step is determining if you have a hearing loss and if that loss is indeed treatable. We encourage you to take the hearing self-exam available further down the page, and, more importantly, call Associated Hearing and set up a free consultation where we can begin to help you understand the impact we can have in helping you regain your life!
Symptoms of Hearing Loss
Some symptoms of hearing loss include:
- Difficulty hearing female and children’s voices
- Having to ask people to repeat what they have said multiple times
- Needing a louder TV and radio volume than others
- Thinking people mumble constantly
- Having problems hearing in crowds, restaurants, and concerts
Also, ask family members if they think you are having difficulty hearing. Oftentimes, they will provide you with additional insights with regard to your hearing health. Or take our convenient Self-Test and see for yourself if you are beginning to experience some of the signs of hearing loss.
Finally, if you suspect you do have hearing loss, schedule a free, no-obligation hearing examination by calling 651-646-2427. We will help you understand your quality of hearing and determine if there are things you can do to bring the full spectrum of hearing back to your life.
Levels of Hearing Loss
A mild hearing loss may cause you to miss 25-40% of the speech signal. Usually this results in problems with clarity since the brain is receiving some sounds but not all of the information. Symptoms of mild hearing loss include problems understanding someone farther away than a normal distance for conversations, or even up close if the background environment is noisy. Weak voices are also difficult to understand for people with mild hearing loss.
A moderate hearing loss may cause you to miss 50-75% of the speech signal. This means you would have problems hearing at short distances and understanding people face-to-face, but you would also have problems if distance or visual cues changed. Symptoms of moderate hearing loss typically include problems hearing normal conversations and problems hearing consonants in words.
People with severe hearing loss have difficulty hearing in all situations. Speech may be heard only if the speaker is talking loudly or at close range. A severe hearing loss may sometimes cause you to miss up to 100% of the speech signal. Symptoms of severe hearing loss include inability to have conversations except under the most ideal circumstances—face to face, in complete quiet, and accompanied with speech reading (also referred to as “lip reading”).
Profound hearing loss is the most extreme hearing loss. At this level, you may not hear loud speech or any speech at all. You are forced to rely on visual cues instead of your hearing as the main method of communication. Many people experiencing profound hearing loss are proficient in using Sign Language and/or speech reading (also referred to as “lip reading”).
This brief Hearing Self-Test may help you determine if you suspect that you have a hearing loss and need to consult with a hearing care professional.
Disclaimer: Although this hearing self-test is based on the more common signs of hearing loss, it is not a substitute for an actual hearing test performed by a licensed professional. It is offered as a guideline to help you determine whether you are experiencing the signs and symptoms of hearing loss. If you suspect you have hearing loss in one or both ears—or any problems with your ears or hearing—we strongly recommend that you see a hearing health care professional. We encourage you to print this questionnaire and bring it to your hearing consultation.
What Happens During a Hearing Examination?
The process of examining your hearing, consulting with you about your lifestyle and hearing needs, and demonstrating up to two hearing aid products typically takes approximately 1.5 hours. Here is the usual process involved in diagnosing and treating hearing loss.
The first step in helping you to hear better is a conversation focused on you! We need to understand where you are experiencing difficulties, what hearing activities you enjoy the most , and the types of situations that are most difficult to hear in, as well as when you hear the best. We will also discuss your medical history with regard to medications, past illnesses, and other conditions that may have affected your hearing. All of this information will begin to help us understand the types of products and features that may be most important in helping you capture the most in the listening environments that are the most important to you.
During this time, we will also help you understand the steps we will go through in diagnosing your hearing situation, how much time may be involved, and will also answer any other questions you may have as we begin the consultation process. Don’t worry, this is one time that going to the doctor is completely painless!
2) Ear Examination
We will perform an examination of your ears for any physical condition that might be cause for further medical evaluation. If a buildup of cerumen (earwax) is present, it will need to be removed prior to conducting a hearing test.
3) Hearing and Speech Tests
A hearing test is conducted in our specially designed sound booth. The sound booth ensures that outside noises will not interfere with your hearing test. During this test, you will be introduced to a range of pure tones at different volumes. The process will be repeated for each ear individually. Next, you will hear a series of words, which you will be instructed to repeat. There will be variations in the lengths of the words and the volume in which you will hear them. An audiogram, which is a graph representing the results of your tests comparing your hearing in each ear, will be generated to determine:
1. Which is the “better” ear
2. Your level of hearing loss in each ear
3. The frequencies at which you hear the best
Based on the findings demonstrated in the audiogram and our discussion about the results, we will make recommendations as to the types of hearing aids and their features that will best address your particular hearing loss, if, indeed, the test results demonstrate that a hearing aid is the appropriate solution. During this time, we will also program hearing aids to your particular loss and allow you to listen to the difference. We will also compare differences between manufacturers if there are multiple product options that will address your individual hearing needs.
If our recommendation includes hearing aids that require ear molds, we will begin the fitting process by creating molds of your ears to ensure a comfortable and effective fit. With the advances in technology we are seeing today, not using customized molds is also an option.
Once the hearing aid has been delivered from the manufacturer and programmed for your individual needs, we will perform a series of verification tests to make sure you are hearing speech and other sounds as clearly as possible.
As you reenter your world with the benefit of your hearing aids, there may be need for some adjustments for you and those close to you. We will meet with you and family members or friends to answer any questions and concerns you may have to provide you with every opportunity to gain the most from your hearing aids.
8) Ongoing Care and Maintenance
We prefer to schedule regular appointments—typically every six months—to ensure that your hearing aid is working properly, discuss any changes you may be witnessing in your hearing, and make any additional recommendations and suggestions of things you can do to have the most positive ongoing experience with your hearing technology.
Prevention Starts Today!
Prevention is the key to maintaining your hearing health throughout your lifetime. The world we live in today is full of sound—so enjoyable and sometimes so destructive to our lifetime hearing health. That is why protection is key.
We offer a full range of custom noise protection. This is especially important if you enjoy some or all of the situations below. Here are a few examples of where you hearing health may be at risk:
Love the excitement of “the big game.” But it may be taking a toll on your hearing health. Have you ever gone to a concert or sporting event and your ears are still ringing the next morning? That is a negative impact to your hearing. Custom earplugs for the sports enthusiast are affordable and discreet.
Music teachers, band directors, musicians, and vocalists must be very aware of the impact of those beautiful sounds over a prolonged time. Custom earplugs will not diminish the quality of the sound, but they will keep the noise level at a range that makes it enjoyable and safe.
Hunters beware! Along with that big bang comes increased likelihood of decreased hearing! Ear protection for hunters will reduce the reduce the tremendous shock of a shotgun blast to your ears, but still allow normal hearing as listen to the sounds of nature and share those hunting stories!
Hours of unprotected music listening can have devastating long-term impacts. Custom earplugs for your personal listening device will keep the outside noise from entering around standard earpieces, which allows you to turn the volume down and improve the quality of your listening—that’s a double win!
Loud Working Conditions
Jackhammers, airplanes, factories …you name it, the workplace is no place to give up your hearing health! Custom earplugs and noise protection can be affordable, convenient, and easy to wear. Don’t settle for minimal protection. You are at work more than any other activity in your day. We carry a number of options to protect your hearing and still allow you to enjoy your work environment.