Are You Set for a Quiet New Year?

The Mail on Sunday (London, England), January 30, 2011 | Go to article overview
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Are You Set for a Quiet New Year?


MORE THAN 8 million people in the UK suffer from hearing loss, the symptoms of which can seriously affect their enjoyment of life; in an increasingly noisy world, it's predicted we'll see ever larger numbers of people experiencing these effects, and at a younger age.

Hearing loss can be caused by many things -- illness, medication, a build-up of ear wax -- but in most cases, hearing loss is simply part of getting older as the sensory hair cells in our ears fall prey to wear and tear.

"More than 50% of people over the age of 60 are living with hearing loss. Because the symptoms develop so gradually, many people struggle for years with it unchecked," says Karen Shepherd, Professional Services Manager at Boots hearingcare. In fact, it's often a friend or family member who first notices the symptoms of hearing loss.

"The most commonly reported symptoms are that people have the television too loud for others in the room or constantly ask people to repeat themselves. Untreated hearing loss can often be a source of frustration for friends and family," adds Karen.

But it isn't only the family who are affected: imagine you have impaired hearing and you're in a noisy restaurant struggling to hear; you try to follow the conversation but are struggling to make sense of the sounds around you. You have three choices: take a guess at what's being said and risk the embarrassment of getting it wrong, keep asking people to repeat themselves and risk that they get annoyed, or simply withdraw from the conversation. For many with such impairments, this third choice becomes the most common as they try to minimise the effort, frustration and embarrassment of trying to hear.

Sadly this can result in otherwise outgoing, lively people avoiding social situations, perhaps becoming isolated and withdrawn.

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