"The older you are, the more likely you have hearing loss, though it's not just an elderly person's disease," says Arlene Moss, a clinical audiologist at West Tennessee ENT Clinic for almost 30 years.
Even with minor hearing loss, Moss
sees patients who are reluctant to leave their homes and be in crowds."It can be devastating.When you lose your ability to communicate, you are so isolated."
Once at the ENT Clinic, the patient has a hearing evaluation to measure the amount of hearing loss and to make sure the problem cannot be treated medically."We also determine whether the patient can adapt to a hearing aid," Moss
says.Patients can choose between analog and digital hearing aids.The digital technology usually is more expensive, but it allows the patient to do more, such as program it for different situations, Moss
said.Hearing aids can fit behind the ear or be small enough to fit inside the ear.
Often patients must learn to "hear" again with a hearing aid, she
says."When you get a hearing aid, your brain has to get used to hearing again and learn to focus on what's important."
Patients who get their hearing aid through the ENT Clinic have a 60-day period to adjust to the hearing aid or return or exchange it, Moss
says."Our prices for hearing aids are comparable or often are less than other places that sell hearing aids."Hearing aids are more socially accepted these days, Moss says, adding that many people had a major attitude adjustment about the devices when it became known that former President Ronald Reagan wore one.