Hearing loss? Don't suffer in silence
HEARING problems are often missed or under-diagnosed.
In fact, it takes an average of six to 10 years before a person with hearing difficulties will get fitted with a hearing aid.
There are three main reasons for this.
First, while hearing aids are well recognised as the main solution to hearing loss, people are concerned about the cost.
Fortunately, due to advances in digital hearing technology, they are now available at more affordable prices.
Second, the big question is: Can hearing aids really help?
One of the most common complaints from first-time hearing-aid users is that they are bothered by the amplification of background noise. Because of this, a noise-reduction capability has become an important feature in hearing-aid design.
Mr Tan Boon Hai, principal audiologist of The Hearing Specialist Group, said that a hearing aid has to be "adjusted progressively over a time period", in order to fine-tune and adapt it to each individual's needs.
Third, people do not know how to go about seeking help for their condition.
The first step would be to approach an audiologist or an ear, nose and throat specialist. They are trained to perform hearing tests and will be able to diagnose the problem.
They would then be able to recommend follow-up action, such as performing an evaluation, selection and fitting of a hearing device.
An audiologist's clinical counselling ability is another important factor.
According to Mr Tan, the counselling is to "help an individual manage his expectations".
Hearing loss is permanent, but the effects can be alleviated through the use of hearing aids.
School of the Arts student Siti Faza Nadhirah Putri Mohamed Azharashid, 13, has benefited from using hearing aids.
She has 70 per cent of a normal person's hearing range, and the problem became evident when she was just two.
The aspiring dance teacher can hear music well enough to move along to it, and hearing aids have helped her to cope.
"Wearing them can be irritating. It's like having something stuck to my ears all the time. But I know I need them to dance better," she told The New Paper in an interview recently.
"They allow me to better hear soft notes and catch subtle cues. I can also hear my teacher's instructions much more clearly," she told the paper.
Studies have shown that hearing loss, if left untreated, may have an effect on a person's physical, mental and emotional health. Sufferers tend to isolate themselves, or eventually stop communicating with the people around them.
For more information about hearing loss, consult The Hearing Specialist Group, located at Mount Elizabeth Medical Centre, #09-03, tel: 6738-3615