Letter: Article falls short in complexity of hearing issues

To the editor:

I read with interest the recent article in Mature Lifestyles on the negative effects of hearing loss (“Hearing Loss Affects Life Connections,” January 2013). It is true that untreated hearing loss affects relationships with others and contributes to social isolation and depression. In addition, recent studies show that there is also a connection between untreated hearing loss and dementia.

In spite of these studies, a significant proportion of the 60 percent of seniors who have hearing loss fail to treat it. As the article correctly points out, cost is one explanation for this. A good hearing aid can cost $2,000 or more, a cost that reflects the complexity, technology and skill required to correct the loss and fit a person’s need.

The article did not address the many factors an individual should consider before purchasing a hearing aid. For instance, the company featured in the article exclusively uses a little-known hearing aid. There are many brands of hearing aids, some better than others and some more suited to a particular patient’s needs than others. It is important to find the right brand and the right hearing aid for the right person.

Further, the choice of the hearing aid is not enough, by itself, to treat hearing loss. It is also important to meet face-to-face, on a regular basis, with a good audiologist. Audiologists are professionally educated and trained to work with hearing loss. They have access to the tools and instruments necessary to program the hearing aid and fit it for the best and most comfortable use. Adjustments to the program are common and most audiologists meet with their patients on a periodic basis over a period of months, sometimes years. People should be wary of pre-programmed or factory programmed hearing aids that do not allow for appropriate aural rehabilitation.

Getting a satisfactory hearing aid is not like going to the drugstore to buy a pair of glasses that magnify your vision. Look for the hearing aid that fits you and find a good, trustworthy audiologist who will work to meet your needs and keep you from suffering the negative effects of untreated hearing loss.

Kim E. Fishman
St. Louis Park

Fishman is an audiologist for Chears Audiology in St. Louis Park.