The health conversation it’s time to have

Signs of hearing loss can include watching TV at a higher volume than usual, struggling to follow conversations in noisy environments, or subtle realisations that once-familiar sounds such as birdsong or the car indicator go unnoticed. Fatigue after being in busy surroundings is also something to be aware of.

There are several telltale signs of hearing loss that should be monitored.Credit:Specsavers

“We find people with hearing loss are tired after being in background noise, because of that struggle to concentrate to understand people,” says Launchbury. “Or you might miss some of that clarity, like with the end of words, which makes it sound like people are mumbling.”

Letting loved ones know

If the signs are there, seeking support early is key to learning to live with hearing loss. For family and friends, Launchbury says a gentle conversation can go a long way in empowering those with hearing loss to ask for help.

You can also show support in other ways. “We definitely encourage a family member to come along to an appointment with the audiology professional so you can offer support and guidance,” adds Launchbury. “You can also help with research around hearing loss, such as what it is, the type of solutions and the costs, because that might be a barrier, too.”

The money myth

The perception that hearing aids can cost thousands may result in an avoidance and stubbornness to seek help, especially in the current economic climate.

“It can be quite challenging for people to shop around and get quotes from various different providers,” says Launchbury. “Most companies don’t advertise their pricing online, or customers are required to come to an appointment before they’re giving any kind of figures.”

However, it’s worth looking for service providers, such as Specsavers, who take a more transparent approach, highlighting prices upfront and online without compromising on expertise.

Launchbury also stresses that devices these days aren’t like the hearing aids of the past, and that the technology has improved by leaps and bounds in recent years.

“What’s surprising is that people still think hearing aids are these big beige things that sit behind your ears, but there’s really a lot of choice these days — they’re really small, discreet and comfortable to wear.”

“They’re a bit like mini computers and, since they’re software-based, we can fine-tune them exactly to the level of hearing loss that you have. The size of the hearing aid doesn’t dictate the price, either; it’s the technology inside of it. So you can get really small and discreet ones at entry level.”

Hearing loss may be common, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be treated. Taking steps towards better hearing health is easier than we think – and the good news is, it’s affordable.

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