I recently read an excellent post on http://www.livingwithheringloss.com by Shari Eberts. “I NO LONGER FEEL SHAME ABOUT MY HEARING LOSS”. If you have any level of hearing loss, Shari’s blog is a great place to begin your self advocacy.
I don’t think I ever felt shame about my hearing loss as much as ignorance. I simply did not know that I was not hearing well. I had had a hearing test a few years previously at which time I was told that I had some loss but still “scored” in the normal range. For late deafened hearing loss, hearing loss that manifests itself in adults, the condition is usually progressive. Dependence on a hearing examination that happened years ago is false security. I now know that if I had an annual hearing test along with annual physicals I would have been made aware of my deteriorating condition much sooner. This is another example of this invisible disability that was invisible even to me.
If hearing exams were made a standard part of one’s medical history, then the issue would be addressed much sooner and more successfully for thousands of people. For this to happen, however, hearing loss would need to be recognized as a medical issue, not a cosmetic or life-style problem as it is now seen by Medicare and other insurers.
As with any medical need, money should never stand in the way of receiving treatment or assistance. It is my understanding that a bill is now in Congress to remove the Medicare rule that prevents coverage for hearing aids. We can only hope that something good comes from this effort.
Your primary care physician is a good place to begin. Whatever network you belong to will have within it an otolaryngologist - an ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialist as well as the services of an audiologist. If you have the least suspicion that you have some hearing loss, do yourself a favor and find out for sure. You might not even know what you’re missing.