CHRISTMAS is just weeks away, and all the usual sights and signs are firmly in place with lights shining brightly down high streets, Christmas trees and decorations appearing in neighbourhood windows, and the TV and radio playing everyone’s favourite seasonal movies and songs.
But how much can you really hear, amongst the festive cheer?
Having to turn up Mariah’s familiar key change can be a sign of hearing loss – and leading Scottish optician and hearing care provider Duncan and Todd Opticians and Hearing Care is urging people not to ignore hearing problems this festive season.
Hearing loss can be temporary or permanent. It often comes on gradually as we get older, but it can sometimes happen suddenly.
Joan Brown is an audiologist at Duncan and Todd in Aberdeen, which, in addition to eye care, offers expert audiology services and advice.
This includes a free screening test, free hearing assessment and free unlimited service appointments as well as the latest digital technologies in hearing aids.
She shared with us some signs to look out for this season, as well as what you can expect at a hearing appointment.
“With every patient, it’s important to listen and understand from them where the main area of difficulty is and be able to identify and relate to the results,” said Joan. “This might include something as simple as not hearing the TV as well, or more complex issues such as struggling to hear family members or friends around them, particularly in a crowded or noisy environment such as a Christmas party,” she said.
The NHS lists common signs as difficulty hearing other people clearly and misunderstanding what they say, especially in noisy places; asking people to repeat themselves; listening to music or watching TV loudly; and having to concentrate hard to hear what other people are saying.
Hearing loss can have many different causes, for example:
- Sudden hearing loss in one ear could be due to earwax, an ear infection or a perforated eardrum
- Sudden hearing loss in both ears could be due to damage from a very loud noise or taking certain medicines that can affect hearing
- Gradual hearing loss in one ear may be due to something inside the ear, such as fluid, a bony growth or a build-up of skin cells
Gradual hearing loss in both ears is usually caused by ageing or exposure to loud noises over many years, however sudden hearing loss should be investigated by a GP.
“After gaining a better understanding of signs and symptoms, as well as building up a picture of a patient’s lifestyle, an audiologist can offer help and advice on all options available for treatment, including private hearing solutions that best suit the patient’s individual needs and surroundings,” Joan explained.
By raising awareness of the importance of routine hearing checks, Duncan and Todd is aiming to make hearing difficulties something that patients are used to talking about before they suffer such loss.
If required, a full hearing assessment takes around 75 minutes. A specially trained audiologist will ask a series of medical and lifestyle questions for background information, as well as checking the health of the patient’s ears.
Next they will do a hearing test, where the patient will wear headphones. He or she will usually listen to sounds of different tones and volumes and will be asked to press a button when they hear a sound.
Treatment can help make the most of the remaining hearing. This may involve using hearing aids or different ways of communicating, such as sign language or lip reading.
Modern hearing aids have evolved into communication systems which are available in a variety of shapes, sizes and colours and also incorporate the very latest technology.
Joan added: “Much like a lens can be used to show how glasses can improve vision, hearing aids and wearable technology can show the benefits of using these to the patient. Everything is so loud these days, and that is normally intensified at this time of year.
“Although a joyous occasion for many, for those struggling to hear and share those special moments, it can be very isolating and lonely. It really is vital we look after our hearing, just like we would our sight.”
For more information on audiology, visit: https://www.duncanandtoddgroup.com/services/hearing. Duncan and Todd has branches across the Aberdeen including on Belmont Street, Union Street and in Dyce and Westhill. For a full list of branches and to make an appointment go tohttps://www.duncanandtoddgroup.com/.