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Dr. Nelson: "Listen Up!"

January 21, 2008 • Kimberly Nelson, AuD

23 Listen Up!

According to the most recent data compiled by 80,000 members of the National Family Opinion (NFO) it is estimated that 28.6 million people, representing 10.3% of the U.S. population have hearing loss. These numbers support that individuals with hearing loss indeed do not have a rare condition and are certainly not alone. It is further understood from this data that 18% of “Baby-boomers” (ages 45-64) have hearing loss and over 29% of people of age 65 have hearing loss.

Because only 14% of physicians nationwide screen for hearing loss during a routine annual physical, coupled with the easy listening environment in a physician’s office, hearing loss often times goes unnoticed. The signs of hearing loss are typically subtle and emerge rather slowly, therefore it is important to take note of the common symptoms from a variety of areas.

Medical hearing loss symptoms:
• Have a family history of hearing loss
• Take medications that can be harmful to the auditory system (ototoxic)
• Have been exposed to very loud sounds occupationally, recreationally, or military

Social hearing loss symptoms:
• Require frequent repetition
• Think that other people are “mumbling” or sound muffled when speaking
• Have increased difficulty hearing in noisy situations
• Have your television or radio turned up to a high volume
• Respond inappropriately in conversations
• Have tinnitus (ringing) in your ears
• Read lips or more intently watch faces for more visual cues when others speak to you

Emotional hearing loss symptoms:
• Feel stressed from straining to hear what others are saying
• Feel annoyed at others because you can’t hear what they are saying
• Feel nervous about trying to hear and understand in social situations
• Withdraw from social situations that you once enjoyed because of difficulty hearing

If you or someone you know is experiencing any of the above signs, a hearing loss may be suspected and a comprehensive audiologic evaluation is recommended.

An audiologist is a professional who comprehensively and thoroughly diagnoses, and manages individuals with hearing loss or balance problems. Audiologists are now required to graduate with a doctorate in audiology as the entry-level degree from an accredited university. Audiologists have special training in the prevention, identification, assessment, and rehabilitative treatment of hearing disorders. It is important to investigate the credentials of your hearing health care provider who is performing assessments, referring patients for medical treatment when necessary and providing hearing rehabilitative services.

Dr. Kimberly Hoffman Nelson is certified by the American Speech Language Hearing Association and licensed in the state of Georgia. She is a fellow of the American Academy of Audiology and was an audiologist and supervisor at The Cleveland Clinic Head and Neck Institute in Cleveland Ohio. She is practicing full-time at Advanced Audiology & Hearing Care at the Cowles Clinic. Dr. Kimberly Hoffman Nelson can be reached at 706-453-2119.