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Transcript
The Question That Is Always Asked
In all the years I have practiced audiology, there has been one constant. It’s a
question, and that question is one I’m sure all audiologists have been confronted
with.
Patients always ask me why I can’t fix their hearing like an optometrist corrects
vision. It’s a fair question, but the answer is not easy to explain. I typically provide
them with an explanation of the changes that have occurred within the focal point of
the eye itself. Like adjusting the lens on a projector, glasses change the distance and
refraction of the images coming into an eye. Glasses, therefore, solve the puzzle.
However, hearing loss is a little more complicated. I tell my patients that the cause
of a reduction in hearing can be related to a medical problem affecting the outer or
middle ear. An infection or fluids within the middle ear can cause a transmission
problem, harming the tiny bones inside the middle ear. In light of this, the pressure
placed upon the eardrum causes a decrease in sensitivity.
Most of these medical problems can be corrected, resulting in the reintroduction of
normal hearing ranges. Still, early detection and treatment is imperative with these
conditions.
The correction of this type of loss is not as easy as just making things louder. It may
involve modifying the sounds to augment the signal from a loudness and frequency
standpoint. Noise exposure may have totally destroyed certain regions of the
hearing organ, and the brain may have to learn how to interpret old sounds in new
ways. It becomes more of a process combined with a product, as opposed to a
product simply providing a solution.
Furthermore, sounds that fall within a dead area of the hearing organ sometimes
have to be electronically moved to a different region where audibility still exists.
Even then, the ear may not be able to be brought back to its normal state due to
damage inflicted by noise or disease.
You see, comparing the correction of hearing to that of vision is not as simple as it
may sound. While results with new technology are always improving, one needs to
be realistic with what improvements can be made to their hearing. Audiologists are
trained to understand all types and causes of hearing loss, and can direct you to the
most favorable chance of improved hearing.
With an open mind and realistic expectations, you will be able to notice results in
your hearing. It’s not going to be as easy as throwing on a pair of glasses, but it is
going to make a difference.
That answer is what I give my patients. It’s not what they want to hear. It’s merely
the best answer I can give them at this point in time. I will continue to be asked why
hearing can’t be fixed like seeing can, as I’m sure every audiologist will. My hope is
that some day, my answer really will be as simple as the question that is asked.