Arizona Hearing Center - January 2020

2627 North Third Street, Ste. 100, Phoenix, AZ 85004 | 14418 West Meeker Blvd., Bldg. B, Ste. 102, Sun City West, AZ 85375

January 2020

602-277-4327 |

Who Hearing Loss Affects

Hint: It’s Not Just the Patient

who don’t treat their hearing loss tend to withdraw from the outside world, and it’s not hard to see why. Who would want to inhabit a world where you don’t understand people and they don’t understand you? We have to explain and demonstrate these interpersonal effects to patients so they don’t delay treating their hearing loss. We have to encourage spouses and other loved ones to speak up about bearing the burden by mediating on behalf of the patient. Hearing loss isn’t just the degeneration of a sense; it’s the failing of our most fundamental social and emotional functions. As such, it affects anyone who has a social or emotional relationship with a patient. When you suffer from hearing loss, it’s easy to view the problem as solely your own. But, as with so many other aspects of the condition, the impact is more substantial than a patient can perceive. Helping people see their health in greater detail is one of the joys of working in medicine, and with regard to

when they’ve already been referred to somebody like me, it’s harder to feign ignorance. By placing the burden of hearing loss squarely on themselves, the patient also assumes the onus to solve the problem. If hearing loss only hurts you, the reasoning goes, it’s up to you to decide if and when you want to treat it. The problem with this idea is pretty basic: It’s just not true. You may be the one whose hearing is failing, but your hearing loss affects everyone around you. If your spouse needs to order meals at a restaurant for you, that’s a qualitative change in their life. Very often, those with minor to moderate hearing loss will rely on their spouse to be their conduit to the greater world. While the spouse in this scenario doesn’t have hearing loss, they are absolutely affected by the hearing loss of somebody else. Getting treated for hearing loss, then, isn’t just about the patient; it’s about everyone who cares for and interacts with them as well. Physicians play an important role in dispelling this notion early and often, both on a broad and individual basis. The social nature of hearing and the social implications of hearing loss leave no room for debate. Untreated hearing loss leaves the patient with two options: dependency or isolation. Over time, even depending on a loved one to serve as a translator of sorts becomes impossible. Patients

Many myths and misconceptions are perpetuated about hearing loss, both by those suffering from it and those close to them. The nature of these misconceptions keeps us from addressing hearing loss from an up- to-date and productive context. If we don’t have the ability to accurately talk about the issue, how are we supposed to go about solving it? Some of our failings are historical and others are cultural. Some resulted from comparing hearing loss to other conditions while others have no logical origin whatsoever. All of these failings have one thing in common, however: Each one fails to grasp the fundamental essence of hearing loss. The most common myth I hear from my patients is the idea that their hearing loss only affects them. “I’m doing just fine,” they’ll tell me in an attempt to put an end to any conversation about treatment. From the accounts of physicians I’ve spoken to, it’s even more common for them to hear that excuse, but

hearing loss, most people could use a lot more clarity.

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