Featured Hearing

How improving your hearing can make a difference in daily life

Written by Jennifer Palisoc

When he was in his mid-forties Larry Ross noticed changes happening with his hearing. If family members called out to him from another room, he didn’t always hear them, and it was harder to hear others speaking when there was a lot of background noise. He found he was asking people to repeat themselves.

“You don’t realize how often you’re saying, ‘I’m sorry. What was that?’” Larry says.

He also plays guitar in a band and would turn up the volume on his monitor on stage to try to hear the high notes better.

“Playing loudly didn’t solve the problem,” he remembers.

Larry eventually went to Sunnybrook’s Audiology Clinic which led to a turning point that helped improve his hearing.

“You don’t know what you’re not hearing,” explains Larry. “I didn’t realize how hard I was working to hear things.”

Hearing check

“It’s important to get a hearing test if you suspect you are having difficulty hearing,” says Michael Lam, a hearing instrument dispenser in Sunnybrook’s Hearing Aid Centre. “Untreated hearing loss often leads to patients avoiding social situations and conversations.”

Michael Lam is a hearing instrument dispenser in Sunnybrook’s Hearing Aid Centre.

A physician’s referral is needed for a hearing test. From there, an appointment will be made with an audiologist, who specializes in the prevention, identification and management of hearing loss and balance disorders.

“An audiologist will ask the patient about their hearing ability and how it impacts their life at home and work,” explains Juljia Adamonis, Sunnybrook audiologist. “From there it’s about working with the patient to personalize what hearing aid style and features will work best for them, and then following up in the future to help with any changes.”

Larry has been seeing the team at the Sunnybrook’s Hearing Aid Centre for several years and feels supported by the experts he has worked with, including Michael.

“It’s a diamond in the rough to have that centre,” says Larry. “The team is outstanding. There is great continuity of care. When I go there, they know who I am. It’s refreshing.”

“Hearing is crucial,” says Michael. “I am involved with fitting hearing aids and counselling patients on how to use and adapt to their hearing aids. I see them regularly to help them maintain their hearing devices and ensure they are hearing to the best of their ability.”

“He explained details in a way that was easy to understand. It was a good process,” says Larry.

How hearing aids have changed over the years

“When it came time to consider hearing aids, I first thought of the ones I saw growing up. They were big and clunky,” Larry recalls.

Michael says hearing aids today are much different than those of the past.

“Hearing technology has come a long way!  Most hearing aids are very discreet. They can easily connect and stream with phones, tablets, and televisions,” Michael explains. “They can help streamline a patient’s communication and technology use. We can also make custom fit musician plugs to help minimize noise damage to a person’s hearing.”

Larry says it took a little while to get used to the hearing aids but in the end, they made a huge difference.

“I didn’t realize how hard I was working to hear before. I was struggling trying to hear certain letters and sounds. You get tired. In social situations, it could be exhausting,” says Larry. “After getting the hearing aid, I wasn’t struggling to hear. I didn’t need the extra effort. I didn’t have to concentrate on a person’s face so hard. It’s a very subtle thing, but I could just hear better. I felt a lot better in social situations.”

“It is rewarding when you can help someone,” says Michael. “Pursuing hearing aids can help an individual engage more fully and confidently with the people in their lives. It has been exciting to help patients use new hearing aid technology to help them hear and communicate with the world.”

Larry says over the years, he has found a good fit with his hearing aids, which he adds, have made a big difference in his day-to-day life.

“They’re really comfortable and most people, even close friends, don’t know I have them,” he says. “It’s been a huge breakthrough for me.”

Some signs of hearing loss include:

  • Asking people to repeat themselves
  • Family members complaining the TV or radio is too loud
  • No longer hearing normal households sounds like a tap dripping, doorbell or ringing phone
  • Avoid noisy places or parties
  • Ringing in your ears

If you notice any of these things, speak to your family doctor about a referral to Audiology Services.

Learn more about Sunnybrook’s Audiology Services, including the Hearing Aid Centre: sunnybrook.ca/hearing

About the author

Jennifer Palisoc

Jennifer Palisoc is a Communications Advisor at Sunnybrook.

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