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Posted on Friday, March 30, 2012

Hearing Loss: Undiagnosed for Thirty Years

Female patient with doctor. It's important to see a hearing health professional for help with hearing loss

Despite recognizing the need for specialized healthcare, many people still don't understand the sophisticated training and advanced equipment needed to properly diagnose hearing loss. Often a general practitioner doesn't have experience with or access to the technical audiometric equipment found in an Audiologist or ENT's office. That's why full assessments by an audiologist have been shown to more effectively and accurately identify the nuanced ranges of individual hearing loss. Patients who are not properly tested can waste years, risking serious health complications, before their hearing loss is diagnosed and treated. Such was the case with Cynthia Babb of Royal Oak, Michigan.

Cynthia Babb of Royal Oak, Michigan lived with her untreated hearing loss for thirty years before being diagnosed.

My name is Cynthia Babb. I live in Royal Oak, Michigan. Over my lifetime I have seen many doctors, even specialists, but not hearing specialists. Every time I went to a doctor, I told them that I could not hear very well. They would give my ears a cursory examination and tell me, "I don't see anything wrong with them. They're clean." The diagnoses was always the same, "There's nothing wrong. You have nothing to worry about." This went on for over thirty years of my life in which my untreated hearing loss continued to decline.

I did not know the things I was missing as my busy life continued. I had a home to run, a husband to support, and four children to raise. You do what you do to survive. I adapted. I thought the doctors must know what they were talking about. Eventually, my body got used to the way I heard things or didn't hear things. I assumed that this was the way I was suppose to hear. For thirty years, I struggled to understand people, forcing myself to pay careful attention. It was exhausting.

Untreated hearing loss is an exhausting condition causing people to strain to pay attention and decipher what is happening around them. This often causes people to withdraw from society.

One day not too long ago, my husband said to me "Did you hear that"? I did not hear anything going on, but it turned out to be an ambulance and a fire truck. That made me really scared. I still did not completely think I was losing my hearing, but that incident forced me to return to questioning. Slowly, I realized I could not hear the birds singing right by the front door. It is really SCARY to realize you've gone through life that way.

My husband decided that I should make an appointment at Premium Hearing Solutions. Coincidentally, they were having free hearing tests that week, so I made an appointment to see them.

I knew the office was different the moment I went inside. It was all about hearing there. When they tested me with special equipment, we found out that I had an 80% hearing loss in one ear and 90% in the other ear. I really did not believe them. After so many year of other doctors telling something different, I insisted on a second opinion. My husband and I went to another hearing health office, and they confirmed the diagnosis of the first office. Shaken but convinced, I returned to the good people at Premium Hearing Solutions. They were really nice.

Working with my audiologists, I was fitted for and my husband and I ordered the hearing aids that day. When I first put them on, it was really loud. But, as my audiologist had said, my ears adjusted to hearing again and got used to them. Now when I visit my audiologist, I can hear people talking in the waiting room. At home I can hear a phone ring and also hearing my wonderful husband’s voice. One day, I asked my husband to please stop talking so loudly to me. He smiled and said, "That's how I've been talking to you for thirty years!" It was a new day for both of us.

Walking out of the office that day with my hearing aids in, was so WONDERFUL. I actually heard the birds singing, sirens of a fire truck, the horns on cars, kids outside playing and also the wind blowing. I really did not realize I had that much of a hearing problem. The world is a noisy place, but I really enjoy it a lot better now. LIFE IS GOOD!

Thank you so much, Cynthia, for sharing your hearing loss story. It is bound to help other people recognize that they too might have a problem with untreated hearing loss. Untreated hearing loss is a serious emotional and physical health risk. Research shows both mature and immature brains can atrophy from a lack of auditory stimulation. Facilitating early intervention and treatment of hearing loss is essential to keep brain plasticity in both adults and children. If you suspect you have hearing loss, don't wait, contact a hearing health professional today!

If you'd like to learn more, see your hearing health provider. If you need help finding a hearing health provider click HERE to be connected with the largest network of trusted hearing health professionals in the nation!

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