The significant impact of changing hearing
Though there are many causes of hearing deterioration, the impact on communication is always significant. Whether hearing changes suddenly or gradually, hearing impairment impacts the ability to communicate with partners, socialise with family and friends, and function in the workplace. Many people change their behaviour as listening becomes more difficult, even withdrawing from social situations. There may even be a threat to employment. Hearing loss also has the hidden and unspoken impact on self-esteem as a person loses the ability to confidently and reliably function in daily life.The impact of sudden hearing loss is even greater, with less time for adjustment and often a raw grieving process.
Hearing loss does not discriminate
It occurs across all ages and for a constellation of reasons, manifesting in different ways.
Progressive hearing loss – For some people hearing loss occurs progressively over decades as a result of aging as is seen in rapidly progressive presbyacusis.
Stepwise hearing loss – For other people the decline occurs in a stepwise fashion as a result of years of ear disease or even the surgery necessary to control it. This is experienced by patients suffering from years of chronic mastoid disease, Meniere’s disease, failed stapies surgery for otosclerosis and in the context of acoustic neuroma surgery. Many patients have been told nothing can be done to restore their hearing. This may no longer be the case.
Sudden hearing loss – In other people, hearing loss occurs suddenly without warning. Idiopathic sudden sensorineural hearing loss, accidental trauma or barotrauma can within seconds result in total cochlear hearing loss that fails to recover.
Suitability for a cochlear implant is constantly changing
Whatever the cause of hearing loss, in most cases a cochlear implant or another implantable hearing device is suitable when a hearing aid is no longer adequate or appropriate. A hearing implant is likely to be suitable, even in the context of;
longstanding hearing loss
protracted ear disease or
previous ear surgery
As hearing implant technology, surgery and indications are constantly changing, a cochlear implant may well now be suitable to restore hearing, even though it was deemed that nothing could be done to improve hearing in the past.
An implantable hearing device is never an easy decision
Hearing Implants Australia recognises the real problem people that face – many months and sometimes years of unnecessary and frustrating delay in accessing the benefit of implantable hearing technology. This is unacceptable.
Consideration of a cochlear implant or other implantable hearing devices often eventuates following years of frustration with inadequate hearing despite the best available hearing aids.
Partners and family members often drive the need to finally explore implantable hearing solutions as they experience just as much difficulty with communication as their loved ones.
For every person who is using a hearing implant in this country, there are nine other people who would potentially benefit but do not have access to the information to help them make such a life-changing decision.
Despite the availability of technology and funding support in Australia, we have the one of the most challenging healthcare pathways for delivering hearing to those who need and want it most.
Hearing Implants Australia and its Professional network aim to address these barriers to access and hearing outcomes