Hearing Loss Action Plan

Today's blog is by guest writer, Monique Hammond. Monique is a registered pharmacist, a public speaker and consults on industry-related hearing loss issues. Monique tells her story and what she learned about hearing loss in her book: “What Did You Say? An Unexpected Journey into the World of Hearing loss.” Visit her website at moniquehammond.com

For some people hearing loss comes on slowly, over time. For me, it took all but four hours to go deaf in my left ear. Bam! I saw life change on a dime and felt my job as a hospital pharmacist evaporate. I found out quickly that hearing loss—no matter what the speed of onset—threatens to turn into a chronic communication and quality-of-life issue. 

Along my journey through the World of Hearing Loss, I picked up on the value of the following action points: 

Don’t deny or ignore hearing loss

Although people may be aware of their hearing challenges, many end up procrastinating between five and 10 years before they act on them. Meanwhile, they risk wasting precious time as their hearing further deteriorates and their social and professional ties become strained. I credit timely intervention for a partial recovery. 

Get a medical opinion and hearing tests

Hearing loss is often said to be a symptom of an underlying condition. It’s not always about aging or even genetics. There are many causes, which run the gamut from earwax plugs to brain tumors. The bottom line is that we need a thorough health evaluation and medication history review by a qualified medical specialist along with diagnostic hearing tests. 

Professionally administered hearing tests are a must as they can tell a lot about the loss: the type of hearing loss - or which portion of the ear is involved, the degree of hearing loss and how much the understanding of speech has been affected. 

Get hearing help- the earlier the better

Digital hearing aids allow the hearing professional to work specifically with those frequencies, or pitches, that have been damaged. Although they do not fix hearing loss, hearing aids smooth out the hearing patterns and have helped many beyond their wildest dreams. 

By facilitating social and professional connections and activities, they help fend off isolation, depression and even dementia, according to recent studies. I have a serious one-sided loss, and the use of a hearing aid helps me with equilibrium issues and therefore the prevention of falls. 

Protect the ears from noise

Excessively loud sound is poison to the ears. It causes permanent, cumulative damage that affects the inner-ear hearing cells and hearing nerves. Noise-induced hearing loss numbers are on the rise across all age sectors. Protection is especially important for those who already have hearing loss… you do not want it to become worse. Discuss effective noise protection strategies with the hearing specialist.

Learn about hearing loss

Start early! Learning greatly increased my confidence at a time when I was missing many pieces of the hearing loss puzzle. It became liberating and empowering. I see the same happening to those who come to support groups. It seems as if a weight is lifted off their shoulders. Hearing loss, and life with it, begin to make sense. 

If tended to, hearing loss is a chronic, manageable condition. However, the old adage of “doing nothing gets you nothing” does not apply. Instead, “doing nothing” puts people further behind. In the end, hearing challenges are a call to action that must be heeded in the interest of quality of life, for now and for the future. 

By Monique Hammond