One of the biggest tools we use in patient consultations and counseling is education. Our goal is to break down stigmas and misinformation about hearing loss and hearing aids. It is unfortunate that myths about hearing and hearing loss have deterred many from pursuing the hearing help they need and deserve. By educating patients compassionately, we give patients the knowledge they need to make informed decisions and thrive with their hearing technology. With that said, let’s bust some myths!
Myth #1: Hearing aids are for elderly people
Many people don’t want to admit they are struggling with their hearing because they are afraid it makes them look old. The source of this myth stems from the natural occurrence of presbycusis or, hearing loss related to age. While hearing loss does have a higher prevalence in older populations, it is important to remember that hearing loss and age are not mutually exclusive. Being young does not preclude one from experiencing hearing loss for any number of reasons. Age can contribute to hearing loss, this is true, but let’s be clear; it is not the only contributing factor for hearing loss. Other contributions to hearing loss include heredity, illness and medical treatments, physical accidents, job hazards, and noise exposures.
Myth #2: Hearing aids are just amplifiers.
Hearing aids and amplifiers are different. Amplifiers, known as personal sound amplification products (PSAPs), are over the counter electronic devices that cannot be customized to suit one’s individual hearing needs. Their intended use is not for the treatment of hearing loss. In fact, amplifiers were originally made for people with normal hearing to increase certain sounds within one’s environment (think baby monitors or hunters who need to hear animal footsteps). Over the years, however, the public began to misuse these products to aid hearing loss. The issue in using PSAP’s to aid hearing loss is that they turn everything up louder, regardless of the wearer’s intention to do so. Simply, amplifiers “boost” both loud and soft sounds at the same intensity at the same time. For this reason, amplifiers have the potential to damage hearing if misused.
Hearing aids on the other hand, are FDA approved and regulated medical devices that are intended for the use of treating hearing loss. They are fit by professionals who have extensive educational backgrounds in hearing disorders and treating hearing loss. Hearing aids today are essentially, minicomputers. They are comprised of literal computer chips! They possess abilities beyond just “boosting” sound. They are programmed to manipulate frequencies, gain and volume to accommodate individual hearing needs. The only sounds that are improved and clarified are those a wearer is missing. Additionally, hearing aids cap loud sounds, so they do not run the risk of damaging hearing further.
These computer chips are also very intuitive and sophisticated! Hearing aids now have the capability to streaming phone calls, music, and television, which can all be controlled by users on an app. Other convenient features like battery rechargeability, language translator and access to Google Assistant or Amazon’s Alexa has never made connecting easier! Furthermore, hearing aids are also now considered wellness devices! With integrated health functions that can count steps, detect falls, send alerts, and monitor heart rate, wearers can now have their wellness and hearing needs met in one device!
Myth #3: In the past, a medical doctor said hearing aids would not help me. Audiologists have run into this myth fairly frequently over the years. Some patients have been told by a doctor that their hearing cannot be helped. Many haven’t pursued it further, even if years have passed since being told. Even still, it is important to note that hearing changes over time and it is important to get hearing checked regularly. Even ten years ago, there were some hearing losses that could not be as effectively helped with the hearing aids. That is because hearing aids at that time did not possess the same capabilities that they do today. The good news is, hearing aids today have a much wider bandwidth thanks to having significantly more channels. Simply, this means that hearing professionals have additional room to manipulate frequencies that allow them to fit a wider range of losses more precisely. There is hope yet! If you have struggled with hearing loss but have been told that you are not a hearing aid candidate, we encourage you to see one of our audiologists to determine if this is still the case.
At Pro Hearing, we hope patients leave our office feeling more informed then when they came in. Busting myths is all part of that process! We want patients to feel empowered by what they learn here so they can feel more equipped to make informed decisions on journey their to better hearing. By educating patients on hearing loss and hearing technology, we can better serve and lead them towards hearing success. If you or a loved one are struggling with hearing loss or have questions surrounding hearing loss, tinnitus (ringing in the ear) or hearing technology, call us today!