Many of you may have seen Breaking the Silence on Channel 4 last night – a moving and inspirational programme following profoundly deaf people being fitted with a cochlear implant for the first time.
Although at Aston Hearing we don’t directly deal with cochlear implants, there were many parallels in the stories of these new cochlear implant wearers and our clients who are fitted with hearing aids. The programme brought to light several issues that we would like to focus on in our practices.
- Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss is prevalent in the UK and can be devastating.
Our focus for the rest of 2016 and into 2017 is on raising awareness of Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss, following the experience of our long-standing client Nikki. Luckily, Nikki was able to rush to A&E, and her steroid treatment brought back her hearing after two and a half weeks of total deafness. For Rebecca and Brian in the programme, their hearing loss was permanent, and as both already experienced single-sided deafness, their hearing totally disappeared. Seeing first-hand the difficulties they faced has made us more determined than ever to spread the word about SSHL. For more information can be found here: http://astonhearing.co.uk/sudden-sensorineural-hearing-loss-sshl/
- Losing your hearing can be an isolating experience.
Hearing is one of the main ways in which we connect with the world around us. Through our years of experience and our work with the charity Hearing Link, we understand how emotional and difficult losing your hearing can be. Marion talked about her ‘sense of total loss’ and John mentioned how he has withdrawn from social activities, feeling ‘80% of a person’. At Aston Hearing we will always approach your hearing challenges sensitively and will treat you as an individual.
- No hearing solution is perfect, and it may take time to get used to.
Every person shown being fitted with their cochlear implant reported finding the noises strange or uncomfortable. Sounds were described as ‘tinny’ or ‘like Mickey Mouse’ and some people, like Brian and Fiona, didn’t immediately understand everything said to them. We see the same with the hearing aids that we fit in our practice. Although some people adapt straight away, for others it can be tricky to adjust to hearing all the sounds they have been missing. It is worth remembering that your brain is flexible, and can in time adapt to your new perception of sound. With a little patience and perseverance, hearing aids can help you to fully join in with the world around you.
- Family and friends have a crucial role to play in the hearing journey.
The challenges of hearing loss can be lessened through the understanding of family and friends. John mentioned how friend Pete is never annoyed at him when he can’t hear, and Rebecca described her sister as her ‘ears’. If someone important to you has problems with their hearing, practicing communication tactics can make all the difference.
- Many people live with unaddressed hearing loss.
The programme ended with a shocking fact – only 5% of people who would benefit from a cochlear implant actually have one. Although the figure is much higher for hearing aids (42% of people in the UK who could benefit from aids were wearing them in 2015), that is still more than half of people with hearing loss who are living in a quieter world. We hope that through our awareness campaigns we can encourage more people to see if hearing technology can work for them.