VanBergen: Don’t deny yourself a hearing check-up

When we lose our hearing it is a very slow gradual process that occurs over many years.

The vast majority of people who are living with hearing loss are either unaware that they have hearing loss or significantly underestimate the severity of their hearing loss.

One of my biggest challenges as an audiologist is trying to convince someone who has a hearing loss to admit to themselves that they are actually having hearing difficulties.

They come in saying that they “hear just fine” and typically blame others for their hearing problems.

They tend to think that they would be hearing quite nicely if only their spouse would stop walking away as they are talking, or stop talking into the fridge, or stop mumbling, or stop…well you get the idea.

While this denial is extremely frustrating for the rest of the family, there is a reason for this.

When we lose our hearing it is a very slow gradual process that occurs over many years.

Every year the hearing drops down a little bit more than the previous year and does so at an undetectable rate.

After a number of years, the hearing drops to a level where it actually interferes with our ability to understand specific words.

When this happens though, our first inclination is to base our inability to hear properly on other extrinsic factors rather than realizing that it is our ears that are at fault.

I had a similar experience myself with my eyesight.

I was in a meeting and was looking at a screen at the back of the room trying to read from an overhead projector.

The problem (so I thought) was that the individual who was manning the projector hadn’t focused the projector properly.

I politely asked him if he could please adjust the lens so the words would come through more clearly.

After I had asked this question, the people around me started to laugh at me saying, “Go get your eyes checked Colin. The words are crystal clear for the rest of us.”

While I was deeply offended by the callousness of my colleagues, I am now happy to say that I have been wearing glasses for several years and am glad to do so.

How then do you know if you are losing your hearing?

The easiest way is to ask someone who spends a lot of time with you.

While you may not want to hear it and you may disagree with them, your spouse’s or close friend’s perspective of your hearing ability will be accurate.

If someone is telling you that you are not hearing properly, then please listen to them.

Other signs of hearing loss are:

1) needing the volume turned up on the TV

2) believing that many people mumble or talk too fast

3) difficulty hearing in noisy settings.

If any of these apply to you, please do yourself a favour and have your hearing tested.

Kelowna has many good hearing clinics you can go to that offer complimentary hearing tests.

I would highly recommend that you phone one of them up or call my office and set up an appointment to have your hearing assessed.

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