December 5, 2011

Hearing Loss – More Accessible Than Ever

Parker,-Molly-NEWBy Dr. Molly Parker
Parker Audiology, PC

The topic of hearing loss is more than a feel-good Hollywood script. Marlee Matlin has portrayed many roles for deaf individuals, which have increased public awareness of hearing loss (West Wing, Children of a Lesser God). Recently, a new TV show, Switched at Birth, has gained a larger national audience which will begin Tuesday, January 3, 2012 at 7 p.m. This ABC family show will highlight the cultural and practical experiences of a young woman who was switched at birth and developed significant hearing loss early in life.

Hearing loss (not deafness) is actually more common than people think. Hearing loss is one of the most common
birth anomalies, affecting three to six out of a 1,000 ( In fact, 60 percent of those with hearing loss are under the age of 65 years old. One of the most common comments I receive is, “I notice my friend/family has hearing loss. How do I get them here to get tested?” When the individual finally arrives in my office, they are often shocked when they realize how much others have noticed their hearing difficulty in a variety of situations. They often state they hear normally except for their spouse. Listen to your family—they spend time with you and have your best interests at heart.

If “Huh?” is your favorite response to everything said to you, this holiday season, consider giving your family the gift of improved listening ability. With today’s technology, hearing (dis)ability can be viewed, or made invisible, at the discretion of the user. Normal hearing people use huge, heavy Bluetooth devices in their ears. By contrast, the hearing impaired use easy, comfortable, sophisticated, invisible hearing instruments, which can receive phone (Bluetooth) signals. Often, my normal hearing visitors are jealous when they see the capabilities of current hearing instrumentation.

In essence, with the newer, smaller technology, hearing does not have to be the big problem it once was. My greatest success has been the gift of telephone conversations and quiet TV-listening. Small hearing instrumentation can invisibly allow business meetings to flow more easily in the conference room. With a little extra help from a tiny external microphone, restaurant listening can continue with less background noise to confuse the conversations.

Do not look “old” or “forgetful” because of your favorite response (“Huh?”). Whether you are working or simply trying to get along in your life, do not underestimate the value of improved hearing. Make an appointment in my office and see what new technologies have to offer for you.