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Turn down the volume!

Hearing loss: the (inadvertently) overlooked health condition not taken seriously

Did you HearHearing loss is more than an annoying inconvenience.

It is an overlooked condition that impacts overall health says Bob Froke, an audiologist at Midwest Ear, Nose & Throat.

“For a person suffering from hearing loss, it takes an average of seven years for the problem to finally be addressed,” he says.

Not that it’s gone unnoticed over this period of time, Bob says there has always been plenty of clues – “Your family has told you the TV is too loud; some voices sound like mumbling; and you find yourself asking “huh?” or “what?” way too often.”

Currently 38.2 million Americans ages 12 or older have hearing loss, a problem that becomes increasingly more common and more severe with age. More than half the people in their 70’s and more than 80% in their 80’s have mild to moderate hearing loss or worse according to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES).

Unfortunately, those close to someone whose hearing is declining may not be aware that this individual is truly suffering.

Bob says for those losing their hearing, they actually deal with stages of grief.

“First, there is denial and the question: ‘Why is everyone mumbling?’ Fear follows. ‘What if this hearing loss is true? How will it change my life?’ Anger is next. ‘Why can’t people speak more clearly?’ Sadness is the stage where isolation sets in. It’s the feeling of not being included in conversations. The healthy turning point is realization where the hearing-impaired person finally decides to do something.”

Hearing loss is just one of those “getting older issues,” that families don’t address soon enough. But Bob believes the condition is often simply missed and that it needs to be considered by physicians as a ‘priority’ and included in the same discussions as falls, safety, blood pressure, cholesterol and weight.”

Bob feels an individual’s hearing numbers or “decibels” need to be given attention.

Though ear, nose and throat specialists have been the most active advocates for early recognition and treatment of hearing loss, he believes we all need to address hearing loss as a medical priority right away, as it can diminish an individual’s overall health.

“Correction of hearing loss will contribute to a person being a more active, engaged, social individual that is vital in putting off the effects of cognitive decline due to isolation.” If you, or a loved one, is suffering from hearing loss, schedule a hearing consultation with an audiologist so you can be on your way to living life to the fullest!

By Virginia Olson - Sioux Falls Woman Magazine

Midwest Ear, Nose & Throat
2315 West 57th Street  •  Sioux Falls, South Dakota 57108  •  605-336-3503  •  Toll-free 888-336-3503  •  Fax 605-336-6010