More than 36 million Americans, including many Veterans, have hearing loss. Hearing loss is the third most common health problem in the United States.
Recently, Dr. Rebecca Foster, an audiologist with the G.V. (Sonny) Montgomery VA Medical Center, sat down for an hour-long radio interview to provide more information about hearing loss.
“Unfortunately, hearing loss could have a very negative impact on a person’s social and emotional well-being,” Foster said during an interview on Prime Time, a radio program on SuperTalk Mississippi. “It affects the ability to understand speech. It causes people to become withdrawn or even isolated.”
Some reasons for hearing loss are exposure to excessive loud noise, ear infections or ear disease, certain medications, damage to the inner ear or ear drum, and diminished hearing due to the normal aging process, according to Foster.
“Never put anything smaller than your elbow in your ear,” she added.
According to Foster, signs of hearing loss include the following:
• Many people with hearing loss complain that others “mumble.”
• People with hearing loss experience difficulty distinguishing or understanding speech - especially in noisy environments such as restaurants.
• If you must turn the TV or radio up louder to hear it, you may have hearing loss.
• Those with hearing loss often must ask others to repeat what they’ve said.
• If you cannot understand someone unless they are facing you, you may have a hearing problem.
Help is available for people with hearing loss. “In the last several years, there have been tremendous advances in hearing aids and other assistive listening technology,” Foster said. “People are starting to wear and enjoy hearing aids more and more.”
Anyone who believes they have hearing loss should discuss the issue with their primary care doctor, Foster said.