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Myths and Misconceptions About Hearing Loss

Learn the truth about some of the most common myths and misconceptions about hearing loss and hearing aids.



What are the common myths and misconceptions about hearing loss and hearing aids? That's today's topic on Ask The Hearing Doctors.

Hi, I'm Jim Cuddy, and this is Ask The Hearing Doctors. I'm joined by Dr. Ana Anzola, Dr. Wendy Thorne, doctors of audiology at Hearing Doctors, the Washington DC area's, highest-rated audiology practice with over 1,500 5-star reviews.

Ana, Wendy, thank you. As always let's jump right into it. Myths and misconceptions. We'll start with age. Hearing loss affects only adults older than 65. 


No, no, definitely. So you know, it can affect any age. Um, one in five children can be affected by hearing loss. Um, and I know we had talked about, you know, our youngest patients we see are like four or five and I have one that's 102. You have one that's 103. So any age, it doesn't discriminate. 


Speaking of age, hearing aids make me look old. 


Well, do my glasses make me look old. I mean, come on. So it's just it's no, it's not true. 


I'm too old to benefit from a hearing aid. Definitely not true. Not with 102 and 103 year old patient, I guess. Not all right. I am too young to wear, wear hearing aids. Sounds like you've already debunked that one as well. 


Yeah, it's it's so, especially if you know a baby's born with hearing loss, it is so, so, so important for their speech and language development to aid them immediately as much and as soon as possible. 


All right now, communication. I don't need hearing aids since my hearing is mostly fine.


But it's never too. You're never too old. You're never too young. You know, if you need something, get something, do something about it. It's not that bad.


Why do I need to do anything now? 


Because you know what, unfortunately it's permanent typically and progressive by nature. So the sooner you do something for you to take action, the better off you're going to be. Yeah. If you don't do anything about it, it can actually get worse at a much quicker rate. 


Hmm. Most people with hearing loss use sign language. 


No, no, no. I mean, it could help, but no, none of it. 


Okay. Cause if I do have hearing loss, learning a whole new language, I don't know. Definitely. I had, I had enough trouble with Spanish.


So, um, people with hearing loss are pushy and rude. 


Absolutely not. No, absolutely 


Not. Then how do you explain my wife always yelling at me? 


No, I think that would, I think what happens is that if you're having a conversation and you're not hearing it, then you may be perceived as being rude because you're not answering accordingly. 


What about the other side, the other way around? So I'm speaking to somebody who has a hearing loss, I'm raising my voice and they're taking it as I'm yelling. Yeah. 


Right, exactly. So don't do that. Get your hearing checked. 


All right. Well, multiple lessons here on today's podcast. Um, hearing aids fix your hearing perfectly. Okay. 


No. Yeah. It's not very like your natural normal hearing. Um, but it's definitely better than nothing. And you know, we're always gonna do the very best we can, our technology is the greatest. So, but again, it's not like your natural, normal hearing. Yeah. Technology is advancing every year. Um, it's, a hearing aid will never be perfect. 


People often complain about that. Going into a restaurant, especially a big restaurant, that's really noisy and they take their hearing aids out. Do you run into that with people doing that? 


Perhaps they have the wrong instrument, um, to have the wrong technology and you have a mismatch and a lot of the restaurants too are just way too loud, whether you have hearing loss or not, you know, I have normal hearing and in some restaurants I go into I'm like, I cannot even hear.


That. Yeah. Too many decibels. 


Yeah. And sometimes, you know, um, look at the time, maybe you don't go there at eight o'clock. Maybe you get there at five o'clock and it's not as crowded.


Take advantage of the early bird special. Uh, if I'm hearing impaired, it's just a matter of turning up the volume. 


Yeah. Sometimes depending on the type and degree of loss, but no, it's, sometimes it's more about discrimination, mobile. High-frequency hearing deficit, not a low frequency. So we perceive volume from the low frequencies where we all perceive, um, uh, discrimination from the high frequencies. 


Okay. Now let's talk financial. I can save money by just getting one hearing aid. 


You can save money, but you know, it's best if you have hearing loss to aid in both ears. And if you have hearing loss in both ears, you only fix one ear. You're still going to struggle. You're and you're probably going to have more problems with telling where sounds are coming from. So yeah, we've talked about that before. Yeah. The difficulty of, of being able to hear in one ear and not, not as well out of the other.


And the other one tends to just get worse too, because you're not correcting it. So you tell me which, which ear do you not want to hear in?


But you knew that was coming right. Uh, bargain, hearing aids work just as well as the expensive ones. 


No. So like in like an over-the-counter solution, that could be a simple solution. If we had a, perhaps more of a mild hearing loss, but if it was my hearing, I would want to professionally, a professional to professionally fit it to my needs. Not just something over the counter. I mean, I have, you know, cheaters and I can just put them on and I can see, okay. But if my eye deficit just like my hearing deficit was greater, I would want a professional to look after my only organ of hearing.


Will you also, I would run into the, the issue of, "I recognize I have a hearing loss, and I'm just going to take care of it myself." In other words, "I know I can't see very well. I'm just going to go buy readers at the drug store." Right. Is that kind of the attitude that people are taking and, I mean, not even, they're not even going to see an audiologist?


Uh, some people, but here's the thing. Um, a mild hearing loss is not even sometimes, it's not perceived by the individual, so they're not the ones jumping like right away. You're jumping to go get your eyes fixed or something just because you want to be able to read it and you go to a restaurant and you can't see, you asked for the light, you asked for your wife's, you know, eyeglasses it to a cheaters and you can do a good job. But with hearing, I think is when it gets a little bit more into a more moderate or significant hearing deficit, that's what most people tend to take action. 


[inaudible] I'm not going to borrow her hearing aids, but I'll borrow her glasses, but I'm not sticking her hearing aids in my ear. Anyway, we'll save that for another time. Um, I'll just take care of that at home, actually, uh, health we've talked about a lot of health issues in the past. My type of hearing loss cannot be helped. 


That's, you know, there's always different. There's so many different options as far as hearing aids and different management strategies. So, you know, what works for one person may not work for the other, but that doesn't mean that there's not something else that we can try for you.


Hearing loss doesn't affect the rest of my health. We've been down this road before, but we bring it up again because so many people continue to think that it doesn't matter. 


And it does matter. It's so important. And again, the communication that we have with the patients, with the family members, um, with their, uh, primary care, uh, healthcare provider, I think is so important. And again, we take more of a holistic approach to hearing. Um, and it's, it's in your best interest.


Hearing loss. Isn't a big deal since it's not fatal.


I know we talked about the safety aspects of it, so it can definitely cause safety concerns. You know, if someone doesn't hear well and they're crossing the street and they don't hear a bus coming, um, or they don't hear someone coming up behind them, um, being in a house and there's a fire and you don't hear the smoke alarm. So it's not just, you know, about improving communication, which is important, but it's also, you know, being aware of your surroundings around you, a safety issue. 


It's not, it's not directly fatal, but it could lead to major problems whether fatal or injury or, or, or otherwise, um, surgery can heal hearing loss. 


Oh, at times it can absolutely. But you know, get it checked out first, know your scores, know what type of issues you may or may not be having. And then we have really close relationship with the ENT in town that can really help with that.


Hearing loss is inevitable and can't be prevented.


Um, actually wrong. 30%, 30% of hearing loss can be, um...


Wow. That high a number again, remember hearing protection, right? Right. Yep. So when I go to that next concert, um, hearing aids are like glasses. This kind of goes back to the over-the-counter question, I guess. 


Yeah. So there's, there are multiple solutions out there. Again, we can start with the over the counter, but then eventually the hearing loss may need something a little bit more sophisticated, a more customized something that can be really addressed by a professional, like a hearing healthcare provider. 


And another one that we have touched on. But again, people don't seem to understand this or know it at all - vitamins and supplements won't affect my hearing. 


Correct. Correct. I mean, it'll help your over overall wellbeing and I think that's great. Um, but again, just get it checked out, your hearing is too important. 


Okay. Ana, Wendy as always thank you very much. Great information. Loved it. And can't wait to do it again soon.


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