New year, new you. That’s at least what those cheesy new year commercials advertising weight loss treatments or gym memberships say. There is something to be said for a time of year that specifically asks you to take a look at your life and identify how you can improve it. If you are one of the 48 million individuals in Portland, Oregon or throughout the U.S. with hearing loss, this is the time to do something about it.
Most people with hearing loss wait an average of seven years before seeking help. Most can justify this in a number of ways – you don’t want to look old, you don’t really have a problem, who needs to hear anyway?
Fear not. Hearing aids, the most common treatment for hearing loss, have come a long way since the ones you may remember your parents or grandparents wearing. Modern devices are more compact and comfortable than ever before. Some styles are even able to be placed deep in the ear canal, making them virtually invisible. Others include features like Bluetooth compatibility for added versatility and ease of use. Your Portland audiologist can find a device suitable for your unique lifestyle, cosmetic preference and budget.
The first step toward your hearing loss treatment is to schedule a hearing screening. This involves determining your type and degree of hearing loss through a series of tests. Two of the main tests are pure-tone and speech testing.
Pure-tone testing is used to determine the faintest tones you can hear at a variety of pitches. You will sit in a specially designed sound booth and wear a pair of headphones. A series of tones will be played through the headphones; every time you hear a tone you will be asked to either raise your hand or press a button. Your results will then be recorded on an audiogram, which is a visual representation of how well you can hear.
Speech testing is able to measure how well you understand speech. The tester will read a list of words aloud; you will be asked to either recite the list of words back or simply indicate if you heard them. Your speech reception threshold (SRT) and speech detection threshold (SDT) will be measured; these results are also recorded on your audiogram.
Once your type and degree of hearing loss is determined, your Portland audiologist will be able to help you decide upon the right course of treatment. For most, this will be the use of a hearing aid.
The earlier you treat your hearing loss the better the outcome. Make 2017 the year you can hear.