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When’s the right time for a hearing check?

It's probably sooner than you think.

The human brain is so good at adapting that you may be just getting by on less-than-optimal hearing — without knowing what you’re missing.

As the old story goes, there’s good news and bad news about hearing loss. The good news is that the human brain — your brain — is amazingly good at adapting to things like progressive hearing loss. You may be suffering from a deficit right now and be hardly aware of it, because you’ve found ways to compensate — simple things like turning your head and leaning forward to hear better or asking people to repeat what they’ve said; or waiting for the conversation to move on so you can catch up.

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Know what you’re missing.

So what’s the bad news? You may be adapting so well that you don’t know what you’re missing. You’re unaware of lost information, lost opportunities, and the lost energy you spend just trying to keep up. You just know that social situations are more tiring than they used to be. Those embarrassing moments when you don’t catch someone’s name or some other important bit of information are growing more frequent.

If you’re like many people with age-related hearing loss, the condition progresses as you get older. And as it progresses, you work harder to cope, maybe without even realizing it. As good as your brain may be at adapting, the effort it takes tends to diminish the parts of your life that matter most: sharing with friends and family, keeping ahead in your business, and spending time out in the community.

People with advanced hearing loss describe this state as a feeling of isolation, of being trapped. They find it physically and emotionally tiring to strain to hear a conversation in a noisy setting. It’s just too hard to make the effort. So they give up.

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Break through the isolation with new hearing technology.

There is help for hearing loss: a wonderful array of modern hearing solutions designed to help you focus on what’s important in all sorts of listening environments. Modern hearing technology can not only help bring you back to a fuller and more vibrant social life; it can make things like concerts, radio, telephone and TV more rewarding experiences than ever before.

But what happens is that people tend to put off getting help until too late in life. They adapt a little more, and miss out a little more, every year. They don’t realize how much they’re struggling, and live increasingly isolated lives.

There are a variety of reasons that people put off getting help. The main one is a lack of understanding of what hearing technology is and how it helps. We’ve found that there are three big myths that keep people from trying new hearing technology, putting them on the road to years of frustration and isolation instead of a happier life.

Myth 1: Hearing instruments are just amplifiers... and I don’t need more loudness.

Hearing aids used to attempt to help just by upping the volume of every sound. But that’s not how it’s done today. Modern hearing instruments use the latest breakthroughs in microprocessor design, audio signal processing technology, and materials science, not just to raise the volume of what you hear, but to sharpen the focus of what you hear. So you’re better able to hone in on a conversation in a wall of party noise, and shift attention from one voice to another as you choose. A modern hearing instrument can, for example, make it easier to understand and respond to the soft, high-pitched voice of a child or an elderly person because its own micro-brain works with your brain to recognize natural speech cues and keep competing noise from distracting you.

So this is not your grandmother’s ear trumpet. Nor is it your father’s case-and-chord hearing aid. A modern hearing instrument is exquisitely programmable to match your hearing profile and help you hear more naturally, even in difficult hearing situations.

Myth 2: Hearing instruments are uncomfortable and unattractive.

Ironically, this myth persists because many modern hearing instruments are so well concealed that most people never see them. The models you’ve most likely seen in public are actually older generation units — the so-called “Big Beige Banana.” The latest generation of hearing instruments are an astonishing blend of camouflage and miniaturization that weigh almost nothing and virtually disappear behind the ear. As for color, beige is so last century! You can get instruments that are colored to blend with your hair or skin color, or sit invisibly inside your ear canal. Or you can go the other way with jewel-like colors that accent your personal style.

Myth 3: Hearing instruments are not for me, not yet, anyway.

People who believe they have only slightly impaired hearing often make the mistake of thinking that they don’t have as much to gain from a hearing instrument. Anxiety over the idea of being dependent on a hearing device can play a role as well. It’s a shame, because this frame of mind causes people to waste years of their lives coping and adapting, slipping gradually into a world of isolation. Eventually they neither remember nor or realize the fuller life they’re missing.

There’s only one way to break through this debilitating myth: short-circuit the mentality of coping, accepting and avoiding the issue. Ask yourself, who’s older: the person sitting home alone with the TV on full blast, or the person sitting in a restaurant with friends gathered around, fully engaged in the heart of the conversation? Today’s tiny, discrete hearing instruments can make the difference.

See your hearing care professional (whether it’s an audiologist, hearing aid dispenser or doctor); get a hearing check, and try one of the new, modern hearing instruments. Usually there’s a 30-day risk-free offer you can take advantage of. The only way to understand what you’re missing is to try these state-of-the art hearing instruments in your own home, your own office and your own daily life. If you’re suffering from isolating hearing loss, you’ll see how modern hearing technology can help pull you back into the more vibrant life you love, in a way that no adapting or coping can.

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