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Great listening starts with better hearing

Riddle Hospital December 9, 2015 General Wellness By Barbara Madden, AuD

Listening is one of the most important skills we have. Whether it’s face-to-face in person, seated in a noisy restaurant, or talking on the phone, being able to listen requires that we accurately receive and interpret spoken messages. It is not surprising, then, that great listening depends on being able to hear and differentiate sounds in speech and in our environment.

Listening is not the same as hearing

Our ears detect sound and alert us to things and people. Hearing is one of the five senses; it gives us the ability to perceive sound waves. Listening is much more than that. It is how the brain analyzes and interprets the sounds and speech in our environment. Because hearing and listening are so complex, we must rely on verbal and non-verbal information in order to interpret messages in more challenging listening environments.

How well we listen has a major impact on the quality of our personal and professional relationships with others. We listen to obtain information, to understand directions, to enjoy music, to learn new skills. So, imagine the negative effects of hearing loss on our ability to listen.

Hearing loss affects listening

When hearing diminishes, whether suddenly or gradually, listening becomes more challenging. It is a struggle to understand conversations. Background noise makes speech more difficult to hear. We frequently ask others to repeat themselves. As hearing loss progresses, many report symptoms like difficulty understanding others, finding background noise especially annoying, turning the television volume up louder than usual, and having difficulty hearing high-pitched sounds like birds chirping, bells, and whistles.

Untreated hearing loss has consequences

Many facets of everyday life become increasingly more difficult when hearing loss occurs and no treatment is sought. People withdraw and become socially isolated. Quality of life diminishes noticeably, and there are physical symptoms like fatigue, headaches, vertigo and stress. Studies now even link untreated hearing loss and dementia.

Improving hearing and listening

There are many pleasures associated with better hearing, and an audiologist can guide you to the best solution to meet your unique listening needs. An audiologist is a medical professional with advanced education and experience in the diagnosis and treatment of hearing loss. Hearing solutions today include discreet, sophisticated digital sound processors with features and benefits designed to improve quality of life and restore life’s simple pleasures.

Better hearing leads to easier speech understanding, more comfort in background noise and, in the end, great listening. Imagine reconnecting with family and friends, gaining a sense of control in noisy social situations, participating in family and group settings, having a more positive attitude and realizing an overall better physical health.

The audiologists at Riddle Hospital are a team of caring professionals who are ready to evaluate and advise you regarding your need for further medical evaluation and hearing treatment. To schedule an appointment with a specialist at Main Line Health, call 1.866.CALL.MLH (1.866.225.5654) or use our secure online appointment request form.

Barbara Madden, AuD is a doctor of audiology at the Audiology and Hearing Aid Center at Riddle Hospital.