Digging into anything and everything that makes the CNMI tick beyond politics...

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

For your ears only

DO you often ask people to repeat themselves? Do you have to turn up the television louder than is comfortable for others? Do you always assume that most people are mumbling? If you answer yes to these questions, chances are you may be suffering from some signs of hearing loss.

Try stuffing your ears with earplugs to shut all noise for a few minutes. You may enjoy the silence, but when somebody starts to talk to you, you won’t be able to understand because you can’t hear him or her.
Individuals who don’t have hearing problems may take everything for granted, but not everyone is lucky.
Jennifer Ross, a Board Certified Hearing Instrument Specialist who had been dispensing hearing aids on Guam and the surrounding islands of the Marianas and Micronesia said that hearing loss will affect everyone based on a lot of factors.
Ross had been evaluating hearing and fitting hearing aids for those who have problems in hearing loss for 17 years.

Causes of hearing loss

The most common cause of hearing loss is aging and this will affect almost everyone at some degree if they live long enough. Ross said that the age of onset varies.
Other causes of hearing loss are either from sudden and excessive noise exposure such as from a firearm blast, or fireworks, or from prolonged noise exposure such as occupational noise from airplane engines, power tools, and even loud music over time.
Although she did not provide statistics as to the number of children born with hearing impairments, Ross said she has found a significant number of people in need of better hearing as a result of aging, noise exposure, genetic conditions, or other related medical conditions in Guam and Saipan.
Ross said that people under the age of 18 should initially have their hearing evaluated by an audiologist.
“To the best of my knowledge, there is an audiologist and an Ear, Nose and Throat doctor available on Saipan at CHC, as well as a visiting audiologist from Guam on occasion,” she said.
Ross added that everyone with hearing concerns should have a medical evaluation, preferably performed by an ENT physician who specializes in diseases of the ear.
Ross said that hearing evaluations should be done as a regular general health prevention check-up, annually if you are within the high-risk group for developing hearing loss.
“A high risk group would mean people over the age of 50, people exposed to occupational or recreational noise exposure, people with a family history of hearing loss, or anyone who might suspect hearing loss in themselves, or others close to them,” she said.

Ringing in your ears

“Ringing in the ears” is a condition called tinnitus, and may or may not be related to hearing loss.
“If you have no trouble hearing, but experience ringing sounds in your ears you should consult with a physician, as this may be a sign of a medical condition,” Ross said.
She added that if an individual experiences “ringing in the ears” as well as a hearing loss, and he or she has already had a medical evaluation to rule out a medical condition related to the ringing, then hearing aids may provide some relief by masking the ringing sound they are experiencing.
Ross provides hearing testing for the adult population who have already had a medical examination to rule out medical complications that may be related to their hearing loss.

Hearing instruments

To help people who are suffering from hearing loss problems, Ross dispenses the latest digital technology available in hearing instruments, as well as a full line of assistive listening devices such as television and telephone amplifiers.
She also has available alerting devices for the deaf such as flashing doorbells, flashing telephone ringers, flashing baby crying alerts, and others.
The price range for assistive listening devices and advanced digital hearing aids varies greatly; some insurance provides partial to full coverage.
You may be buried beneath piles of money but if you are deaf or suffer from hearing loss, your wealth will mean nothing.

Test procedure

Ross said that if a hearing test determines that you have hearing loss, and you have been medically cleared from any contributing medical condition that may be causing your hearing loss, then you have to follow the test procedure to have hearing aids:
Ross said that a trial of amplification will be done immediately to determine if hearing aids are beneficial to you. Next, the style of hearing aid will be recommended. In some cases it is a personal choice of cosmetic appeal. Some hearing aids are more discreet than others, meaning less noticeable, but it depends on the degree of hearing loss, the anatomical size of the ear canal, the dexterity of the person wearing the instrument, and other factors.
Third, Ross said that hearing aids are dispensed on a trial basis.
“Hearing aid usage and satisfaction is highly subjective and each person benefits differently, depending on the severity of the hearing loss, the length of time they have had hearing loss, and the conditions in which they will use hearing aids,” Ross said.
Ross visits Saipan to provide hearing care about once every four to six 6 weeks to create more awareness about hearing loss and present remedies available to those who experience this condition.
As an early Christmas gift, she will be here on Friday (Dec. 18) to provide hearing tests at no charge to those who have no insurance.
“Once your hearing is damaged from noise, it is not possible to recover it. Prevention of hearing loss is the best remedy!” Ross said.
In order to determine if you have hearing loss and may benefit from hearing instruments, please schedule an appointment at Marianas Medical Center by calling 234-3925 to 3927.
(This article was first published HERE)

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