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YOUR HEALTH: Don’t suffer hearing challenges in silence

By Martin Jurek

Just because you can’t see something doesn’t mean it isn’t there.

When it comes to changes in hearing sensitivity, the problem is invisible, but the effects are very real.

For those whose hearing has changed, as well as their loved ones’, it’s often that “invisibility” that causes a lot of the frustration. Without a wheelchair, white cane or other visual reminder to draw attention to their challenges, it’s easy for others to forget the condition exists.

The complexity and slow, progressive nature of reduced hearing sensitivity can also create confusion. I often see clients who can hear just fine in one room of their house but not others.

A loss in the high frequencies often means someone can hear well in a small, carpeted computer room, for example, but not in a kitchen with tile flooring and a running dishwasher.

Needless to say, this sort of “selective hearing” can create serious tension between partners.

I recall one couple in particular that was having a very difficult time. The wife was upset with her husband because she thought he was ignoring her, and he continually disappeared whenever company came over.

While she suspected his hearing sensitivity had changed somewhat, she thought he was taking advantage of the situation and was simply being rude.

After completing her husband’s hearing test, I plugged the results into a hearing simulator and had the wife listen to a recorded story.

When she heard for herself how he heard all the time and realized how difficult it must be for him, she began to cry.

She apologized immediately and promised to be more understanding.

It’s hard to fully grasp how challenging a change in hearing sensitivity can be.

But unlike other conditions, often something can be done about it. Don’t just put up with the frustration; see a hearing professional.

Martin Jurek is a Registered Hearing Instrument Practitioner and co-owner of Campbell River Hearing Clinic with his wife Jana. To learn more, visit www.tohear.ca or call 250-914-3200.

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