Earlier this month, I shared the story about my hearing loss in honor of World Hearing Day. It was well-timed, as Thursday, March 16th, marks the 23rd anniversary of the accident that changed my life forever.
Thanks to the encouragement and guidance of #Strella Social Media’s Executive Vice President, Laney, I could share the story of my hearing loss in a relatable and authentic way via video. To my delight, many people reached out to share their own experiences. After posting a Reel of the video on Instagram, it received over 4,300 views, a metric far beyond my typical reach. In response to the many questions I received about hearing loss, hearing aids, and my story, I have compiled a list of FAQs and my personal answers in this blog post.
Frequently Asked Questions About Hearing Loss and Hearing Enabling Technology
Can hearing loss be treated?
Yes, but it depends on the type and severity of hearing loss. Some types of hearing loss, such as conductive hearing loss, can be treated with medication or surgery. Sensorineural hearing loss, the most common type, is often treated with hearing aids or cochlear implants. The latter is the type of hearing loss I experience.
Can I get cochlear implants?
Unfortunately, I am not a candidate at this time. Several factors determine eligibility. Among them is word recognition. My word recognition is 55 percent in one ear and 60 percent in the other when I use hearing aids. In my last medical evaluation to determine my eligibility, I was told I would likely need to be closer to 30 percent word recognition to be considered a candidate for cochlear implants.
Do hearing aids restore hearing to normal?
While hearing aids can improve hearing and speech understanding, they do not restore hearing to normal. They amplify sound and help people with hearing loss hear better, but they cannot completely restore hearing.
How long do hearing aids last?
Most hearing aids have a standard warranty of three years. The hearing aids I have purchased over the last two decades last between five and six years.
I saw a story that said hearing aids would be more accessible over the counter. Does this apply to the more advanced type that you wear?
There are a number of hearing aids that are sold over the counter. I like to describe those types of devices as akin to the reading glasses you might find at a pharmacy checkout counter. Most are helpful for people who need only low to moderate adjustments to help them hear or see. In my case, I have profound hearing loss, so I need a more advanced hearing aid.
Are hearing aids waterproof?
My current hearing aids are not waterproof, but they are water-resistant. It’s recommended to avoid moisture as much as possible to maximize the longevity of the aids. I take them out in the shower; at the gym; and when I enter a body of water, such as a pool or a beach.
How does hearing loss affect your daily life?
Hearing loss is more than the loss of sound. The inability to fully hear has affected my confidence level both in my job and personal life. I often avoid certain situations or places where hearing will be challenging.
I found it especially difficult during the pandemic when everyone wore masks, thus limiting my ability to read lips. That challenge continues today at doctor appointments where masks remain a requirement. I often feel anxious when I have to be somewhere where I have to rely on my sense of hearing, and it creates some social isolation. And there are times when I am just plain frustrated. Somedays are better than others, but I feel a nearly constant underlying sense of worry.
My aim in raising awareness about hearing loss and its impact is to help those who are experiencing it feel less isolated. Also, I want to encourage individuals who interact with those with hearing loss to be more mindful in their communication. I am hopeful that technology and medicine will continue to advance to offer a better quality of life for individuals suffering from hearing loss.
If you’re not familiar with the challenges of hearing loss, watch my story now!