Perspective is everything. How we frame our questions, or what we are looking for, or at, or thinking about, has everything to do with how we form our very realities. So, when our Ms. November, Marcela Mika came in with complaints of missing conversations, punch lines, and having trouble following all of the conversations in her very active lifestyle, I expected to find a serious drop in her hearing thresholds, and obvious need for hearing aids.
No matter where it fell on the chart, even this early loss was noticeable to Marcela, and she was interested in seeing if there was any help for her condition.
Now, I’ve got to tell you that in years past when confronted with a patient presenting the same complaints, and conditions, I have often councilled a watch, and wait position. After all the amount of gain we would be delivering would be minimal, even none at some frequencies.
On top of that, the sounds Marcela showed elevation in thresholds for still indicated that all of the key components of speech would be present in normal, quiet environments, excepting for those softest of voices, or sounds.
Using traditional methods, equipment and assessments, watch and wait would have been the conservative approach.
But, it would have left my patient with the same difficulties, and complaints about her hearing abilities that she had come in with. Still not doing anything would be the approach taken by many in our industry. And, based upon the old tools, and protocols we had in the past for helping patients like Marcela it would have been the thing to do.
However, like many things having to do with healthcare in general, and hearing healthcare in particular, things have greatly changed. New data, and the reinterpretation of old data in light of new findings is changing how we look at these ‘early’, or mild losses.
When taken together with the huge advances in the quality of the equipment we have to amplify both the very softest of sounds cleanly, and accurately, along with advanced beam forming, sound classification, and noise control systems for help with the upward spread of masking in those noisiest of environments, and we can now regularly help folks we used to turn away with a watch and wait recommendation.
Not only can we help these folks presenting today with a ‘mild’, or ‘early’ loss, as professionals, when we take into account the growing body of evidence that indicates that if left untreated, even a mild to moderate hearing loss can have a cascading effect upon both the central auditory processing centers of our brains, but result in actual loss of brain mass, along with significant loss in associated higher reasoning skills.
Yes, not treating a hearing loss isn’t just dumb, it can actually shrink your brain and make you dumber.
Marcela had read about some of these effects, and was having none of it. As soon as we had measured her hearing thresholds, we had moved immediately to correct for her loss, using the very same Widex instruments we’d used to measure her hearing.
We had moved from measuring Marcela’s hearing loss using a method known as in Situ audiometry. Using Widex’s on board measurement, and programing screens we are able to move directly from measuring her hearing thresholds into the called for correction seamlessly, all while being able to easily explain what we are doing, while we are doing it with all of our patients.
After all, it is our patients hearing loss we are dealing with, and it is their fitting.
If, done properly we are only professional facilitators. Experience has demonstrated time, and again that the more our patients are involved in the process from the beginning, the better the results we can achieve together with them, in getting the right gear, and getting it fit right to them.
Direct patient involvement in the process is one of the reasons we have such a high success rate with our fittings, and the best patients in the known universe. It is what we mean by being Patient Centered, and Results Oriented.
In less than twenty minutes were fine tuning the instruments for Marcela’s personal preferences.
By fitting gear with the widest dynamic range in our industry, we knew that Marcela would once again be able to hear even those very softest of sounds, as the input floor on the equipment we use is just 5 dB. An incredibly soft sound, akin to a pin dropping on a tabletop.
Yet, the same gear is capable of handling input sounds as loud as 113dB cleanly and without distortion. The highest, and lowest operational input ranges in our entire industry.
This means that whether Marcela is trying to hear what the gals two tables over are saying, or having to deal with a crowded party with the music blaring, the sounds she gets will be clean, clear and undistorted.
The results for Marcela were real, and from her perspective not only well worth her investment, but tickled her so much that she agreed to be our Ms. November, letting us share her experiences, and how important early intervention is.
“I’m not going to let my brain, or anything else waste away if I can help it. I want to live life to the fullest.”
Marcela is right folks. A brain is a terrible thing to waste. And, if you’re like me, you don’t have any extra. So, if you have a hearing loss, don’t risk shrinking yours, or degrading any of those higher level processing functions, get some help.
Take care of your hearing and you too can live life large, and to the fullest. Neglect it at your own risk, and live in a smaller and smaller circle of life, the evidence has never been clearer, or the gear better.
We have hearing help for every lifestyle and budget. Come see us, you and those you love will be glad you did.