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Could You Have Hearing Loss? Find Help in Red Deer

The first signs of hearing loss start off subtly. You may find yourself asking a conversation partner to repeat themselves, or their words seem to get lost in the background noise. A constant ringing sound in the ears, known as tinnitus, is also an early indicator of hearing loss. Within our office, we can assess your hearing to see if you can benefit from the use of an assistive hearing device.

Gift of Hearing

It's true, hearing is one of the most basic ways we communicate. As a baby, we learn to distinguish sounds and attach meanings to those sounds. In fact, we learn our first words from hearing other people speak. Through hearing, we share the closeness of a friend's words, the joy of music and the tranquility of nature. Hearing can also protect us by warning us from potential danger. Hearing is the important sense that keeps us in contact with life and people around us. It is a priceless gift. The trouble with hearing loss is that it can affect people of all ages and walks of life. A hearing loss usually develops gradually, causing the person to slowly withdraw from normal social and business situations. Thanks to technology, a person with hearing loss does not have to lead a life filled with misunderstandings. With a quality Beltone™ hearing instrument, you may be able to enjoy more regular and fulfilling conversations.

How well are you hearing?

Symptoms of Hearing Loss:

Do people seem to mumble when they talk?

Have you been told that you speak too loudly?

Do you hear, but have difficulty understanding?

Do you have trouble listening in a church or theater?

Do you experience ringing or buzzing in your ears?

Do you often ask people to repeat something they've said?

Do you find telephone conversations becoming more difficult?

Do you sometimes miss hearing the doorbell or telephone ring?

Does your family complain that you play the radio or TV too loudly?

Do you have difficulty hearing when the speaker is not facing you?

Do you have difficulty hearing in a group situation or noisy environment?

It is recommended for anyone who has trouble hearing or understanding conversation clearly to have a Hearing Assessment to determine if there is a hearing loss which may be helped. Everyone should have a hearing test at least once a year if there is any trouble at all hearing clearly. Even people now wearing an aid or those who have been told nothing could be done for them should have a hearing test to find out if one of our many new hearing aids would help.

Electronic Hearing Tests are being given throughout Central Alberta!

Please contact us to book your personal consultation where we perform your electronic hearing test and advise you on which Beltone hearing aid fits your needs.

The Function of the Ear

The ear is a tiny, complex instrument hidden in a space as big as the end of your thumb. There are two main organs of hearing: middle ear and cochlea or inner ear. The human ear has a complex structure. The way sound waves are converted into electrical signals for the brain is very complicated as well. In simple terms, this is how our hearing works:

  • Hearing begins in the outer ear.
  • The auricle receives the sound waves and leads these through the ear canal. Here they make the eardrum vibrate.
  • Three orbicular bones (malleus, incus, stapes) form the middle ear, then amplify the sound vibrations. The actual hearing organ and the organ of balance form the cochlea or inner ear.
  • The hair cells in the inner ear receive the vibrations and convert them into a signal that is passed on via the auditory nerve to the brain.
  • Here they are interpreted as sound.

The Process of Hearing

Sound is transformed into mechanical energy by the tympanic membrane. It is then transmitted through the ossicles to the inner ear where it is changed again into hydraulic energy for transmission through the fluid-filled cochlea.

The cochlea's hair cells are stimulated by the fluid waves and a neurochemical event takes place that excites the nerves of hearing. The physical characteristics of the original sound are preserved at every energy change along the way until this code becomes one the brain can recognize and process. The ears and the brain combine in a remarkable way to process neural events into the sense of hearing. Perhaps it's fair to say that we "hear" with our brain, not with our ears!

Hearing loss misleads our brain with a loss of audibility and introduces distortion into the message that reaches the brain. Changes in the effectiveness of the brain to process stimuli, from head trauma, disease or from aging, can result in symptoms that mimic hearing loss.

Hearing Loss

Many people are aware that their hearing has deteriorated but are reluctant to seek help. Research demonstrates the considerable negative social, psychological, cognitive and health effects of untreated hearing loss. In fact, those who have difficulty hearing can experience such distorted and incomplete communication that it can impact their professional and personal lives, at times leading to isolation and withdrawal.

Studies have linked serious, untreated hearing loss to:

  • Reduced alertness and increased risk to personal safety
  • Impaired memory and ability to learn new tasks
  • Reduced job performance and earning power
  • Diminished psychological and overall health
  • Irritability, negativism and anger
  • Fatigue, tension, stress and depression
  • Avoidance or withdrawal from social situations
  • Social rejection and loneliness

Hearing loss can strike at any time and any age, even childhood. For the young, even a mild or moderate case of hearing loss could bring difficulty learning, developing speech and building the important interpersonal skills necessary to foster self-esteem and success in school and life.

Hearing Statistics

  • Hearing loss is a chronic condition for millions of people, mostly over the age of 65.
  • Only a small percentage of those who are hearing impaired actually seek assistance.
  • Beltone remains one of the most widely recognized and most trusted brands for quality products and care among adults aged 50+.
  • Beltone has a network of more than 1300 locations in North America.
A decibel chart used in Red Deer to evaluate hearing loss

Speech Understanding

Speech can be loud enough to be heard and yet remain difficult to understand. It is a rapid stream of sounds varying in intensity. For example, vowels are strong while consonants are weaker and often harder to recognize. Normally, strong sounds are perceived as loud, while weak sounds are perceived as soft. When each speech sound is perceived at its normal loudness, words are easily recognized and it is possible to carry on a conversation even in the presence of background noise. With hearing loss, strong intensity sounds are still perceived as loud, but medium intensity sounds seem very soft instead of "comfortable." The weak consonants, instead of being very soft, are often inaudible. When some sounds are too soft or inaudible, speech becomes "jumbled" and difficult to understand especially with other noise.

Individual Programming of Amplification

The proper amount of amplification can be programmed to address your individual hearing loss and sensitivity to softer and louder sounds. In addition, as your hearing loss and sensitivity to sounds change, your Beltone hearing instrument may be reprogrammed to accommodate those changes.

Of Interest

Extremely loud noises can cause permanent damage to the tiny hair cells inside the cochlea. Even moderately loud noise over a period of time can be damaging. Just how loud is loud? Studies show that prolonged exposure to sounds at or above 90 dB can damage hearing. Protect your hearing and wear earplugs when exposed to loud noise.

  • Protect your hearing whenever your surroundings are so loud that you must raise your voice to be heard. If it's too loud for you to hear yourself, the sound is potentially damaging to your hearing. If you can't avoid the situation, wear ear plugs.
  • Ears are self-cleaning. Normal bathing is all most people have to do to keep their ears clean and healthy.
  • Ear wax does not need to be "cleaned out." It is there to protect the lining of the ear canal.
  • Never use a cotton swab to clean the ear canal.
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