Hearing loss isn't just an 'old person' problem; people of all ages can suffer from it. Audiologists' top advice? Seek professional help as soon as possible.
Do you or someone you love tend to turn up the volume on the TV or constantly ask friends and family members to repeat themselves because their speech sounds muffled? Or perhaps you're plagued by a constant prolonged ringing sound in your ears? These are some common signs of potential hearing loss, a condition which affects one out of eight Singaporeans.
Ms Mehnaz Huq, clinical audiologist at 20dB Digisound, adds: "Hearing loss can lead to embarrassment, isolation, loneliness, depression, anxiety, frustration, as well as communication disorders, leading to a poorer quality of life." In children, delayed treatment can also affect language and speech development.
The most common way of treating impaired hearing is through the use of hearing aids. They help relieve the strain of common hearing issues by making ambient sounds clearer and easier to hear. This has a huge impact on one's life, from boosting self-confidence and keeping anxiety at bay, to helping one resume an active and social lifestyle.
However, there are plenty of misconceptions or outmoded views about hearing aids that can hinder people from getting the help they need. With the advice of hearing care professionals, we clarify three hearing aid myths and offer vital information on how to get the best treatment.
While hearing loss may be more prevalent in seniors, it is unfortunately becoming more and more common in younger adults, and even children. "It is a misconception that hearing loss only occurs in the elderly. People of all ages can suffer from it," clarifies Ms Huq.
The most common type of hearing loss in Singapore is sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL), a permanent and irreversible disorder which accounts for up to 90 per cent of all cases in adults, she explains. This could be attributed to various medical and lifestyle factors, such as acute and chronic exposure to loud noise (such as blasting music through earphones), one's genetics and even viral infections - not just the natural ageing process.
In a similar vein, hearing aids are an ideal treatment option for anyone suffering from hearing loss problems, not just those with more severe or profound diagnoses. If left unchecked and untreated, one's hearing may get worse over time. It's like taking care of a broken ankle: "If you don't keep moving or do rehabilitation properly, you will find that your muscle strength [will] start to weaken and shrink."
In addition, a 2011 study showed that hearing impaired people with mild hearing loss are twice more likely to develop dementia than a person with normal hearing. Ms Huq emphasises that it is vital to wear one's hearing aids during waking hours, even if one is staying home most of the time, in order to prevent cognitive decline.
As SNHL usually happens gradually, it's important to get checked by an audiologist as early as possible so that you can maintain a higher quality of life. 20dB Digisound is an established hearing care provider, with over 20 years of experience and five outlets around the island offering free hearing assessments and a full suite of after-sales services from certified hearing professionals.
Many think it's embarrassing to wear a hearing aid because they often associate it with a clunky piece of equipment around one's ear - something a grandparent or elderly person might wear. This social stigma makes people reluctant to seek professional help for hearing issues, which in turn affects one's overall health and well-being.
However, the days of bulky and unsightly hearing instruments that stick out like a sore thumb are truly over. Today's hearing aids have improved by leaps and bounds in terms of both style and function.
Take for instance Unitron, a globally-renowned provider of innovative hearing solutions known for its thoughtful, comfortable and discreet designs for modern-day hearing aid wearers. It is no wonder that the Canadian brand is a seven-time winner of the prestigious Red Dot awards. Most recently, Unitron's Moxi Blu hearing aid clinched the 2021 Product Design award for its easy-to-use technology that automatically adapts to a user's listening environment.
Available exclusively at 20dB Digisound, customers can choose between a variety of sleek styles such as receiver-in-canal, in-the-ear and behind-the-ear styles that blend in seamlessly, both aesthetically and lifestyle-wise.
Another false misconception is that it is difficult to control the level of received sound on hearing aids, making the environment startlingly noisy to the wearer. This is because many people confuse prescribed hearing aids with hearing amplifiers or over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aids.
Although buying hearing instruments off the shelf or even online might seem more convenient or cost-effective than seeing a hearing care specialist, they may have a detrimental effect in the long run. Hearing amplifiers are designed for people with normal hearing and used mainly for recreational purposes, while OTC hearing aids may lead to improper amplification and make hearing worse.
As every individual's hearing loss pattern is unique, audiologist at 20dB Digisound stresses the importance of getting a proper diagnosis and fitting by an expert. "The beauty of a prescribed hearing aid is that it not only 'amplifies' the sound, but also digitally processes audio input to reduce noise, and enhances speech [in a way that is] customised for every individual's needs."
"Hearing aids are not a 'one-size-fits-all' and are programmed by audiologists or hearing care providers to fit an individual's hearing loss condition," adds Ms Huq.
Seeing a hearing care specialist gives you access to the latest cutting-edge technology that gives you more comfort in day-to-day living. Unitron hearing aids are known to perform well no matter where you are, as it automatically adjusts its programme settings in real-time to suit your customisation and lifestyle, while delivering optimal sound.
At 20dB Digisound, customers can also benefit from a host of perks, such as full after-sales support from certified hearing professionals and the assurance of lifetime servicing for every professional hearing product purchased.
The benefits of getting a proper hearing aid far outweigh any sense of shame or fear that you may think comes with wearing one. Ms Huq says "it is always a joy" whenever her patients tell her how satisfied they are with their hearing aids, and how they have helped improve their quality of life.
Ms Huq recalls an elderly patient who came to her to get his hearing aid fine-tuned. "He was so delighted that he could hear again that he broke down in front of me," she says. "The patient was a widower and living alone. Having his hearing aid functioning well was so important to him because it meant that he could have video calls with his children and grandchildren living overseas."
Kickstart your journey to better hearing with a free seven-day hearing aid trial package and consultation at 20dB Digisound. Call 6338 9626 or visit here to book an appointment.
*This article is officially published at The Straits Times online platform.