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Have You Heard?: Clearing the Air on Hearing Loss

Saturday, September 29, 2018 11:20 AM

If you noticed your sight had suddenly changed, going to the doctor to get your vision corrected wouldn't cause a second thought. Is this the same for your hearing?

Earlier this month, Dr. Michael Shinners, NorthShore Neurotologist, took patient questions in an online chat, discussing causes of hearing loss, common misconceptions and the latest technology available today to improve the lives of those with hearing loss. He answers more common questions below:

How many people in the US are currently affected by some form of hearing loss?
Approximately 37 million adults in the US experience some form of hearing loss, while 2 to 3 of every 1,000 children are born with detectable hearing issues (NIDCD).

What do you think are some of the common misconceptions when it comes to hearing loss?
There is a big stigma around hearing loss and specifically hearing aids. Patients feel it means that they are old. For some reason, glasses are much more accepted than hearing aids. As you can see from the data, hearing loss affects patients of all ages. Yes, it is part of normal aging, but that is not the whole picture.

Have hearing aids changed over the years?
Hearing aids are always improving. They are not perfect, but it is not a fair comparison to compare them to the hearing aids one’s grandmother wore 20 years ago. They have Bluetooth among other cool technology now.

What are cochlear implants?
Cochlear implants are for patients whose hearing loss is bad enough that they gain minimal benefit from hearing aids. They directly stimulate the nerve endings bypassing the part of the cochlea that is not functioning properly anymore.

If someone thinks their hearing has changed or they are looking for treatment for their hearing loss, what are the first steps they should take?
The best solution starts with an audiogram and a visit with an Otolaryngologist to discuss treatment options.