Hearing loss is a mainstream health issue which touches the lives of many Australians. Over
3.5 million Australians suffer from hearing loss with nearly half of them aged between 16-64
years. Most people are very surprised at the statistic that 29% of 51-60 year old’s suffer from
A common myth is that you need to be “old” to suffer hearing loss. Yes, your hearing does
typically deteriorate as you get older, but early-onset hearing loss is much more common
than you think. The younger you are, the greater the impact untreated hearing loss can have on your life. It may diminish the quality of your daily human interaction, impair cognitive function, limit employment and promotion opportunities, negatively impact your mental health, damage your self-esteem, hinder happiness, and cause undue friction to your relationships. As a clinic that encourages family members to come to the appointment, relationships and effective communication are at the crux of every appointment.
Leanne and her partner Lou came to Hearlix to discuss Leanne’s hearing and the
communication challenges they were having at home. Leanne reported not being able to
hear Lou and both commented on the frustration this was causing. After thorough testing,
Leanne was diagnosed with a mild hearing loss in her left ear. Like many other of my
patients with a mild hearing loss, Leanne did not initially think her hearing loss could be a
cause for concern. I would like to make the point that, mild hearing loss does not mean
insignificant – it still effects communication, although because the hearing loss is mild, these effects are likely more subtle. For example, a mild hearing loss reduces speech
understanding, which increases the required listening effort and contributes to increased
fatigue at the end of the day.
After a discussion of the benefits of amplification, and getting hearing aids sooner rather
than later, Leanne opted to be fitted with a small receiver-in-the-canal hearing aid on her left ear. The improvement was immediate. That night at home, Leanne noted everything
sounded “enhanced”, “better”, and most importantly she heard Lou clearer, resulting in less
repeats and improved communication – a win for both Leanne and Lou.
Leanne and Lou aren’t alone, hearing loss affects many relationships and families, but what
is hard to quantify is the distress caused by the reduced communication between loved ones and the overall impact on their quality of life. Leanne can attest to this. Although reserved about her hearing aid at first, Leanne is now a huge advocate for hearing aids and the improvement that comes with enhanced hearing and communication. After getting her hearing aid, Leanne reported she is now significantly less hampered by her hearing loss and has a greater listening enjoyment with her hearing aid. Not to mention the improvement communication at home with less “what did you say?” or “can you say that again?”.
On average people wait 7 years from when they first notice signs of hearing loss to seeking
treatment. That is a long time for habits to form and for communications to be strained. The research is clear: health and wellness are improved when you treat hearing loss. How much are you willing to miss out on? Good hearing health is essential to stay engaged and live life to the full.