In light of the beleaguered economy, many people are forgoing restaurant meals and vacations in favor of staying home. Many with hearing loss may even choose to postpone or avoid physician-recommended hearing treatments, which may be shortsighted, says one group.

“Patients are coming in to have their hearing tested and even after the tests show a hearing loss significant enough that a hearing aid would help them, patients are deciding not to get hearing aids right now,” says Allen Senne, AuD, director of audiology and hearing aid dispensing at the House Clinic, Los Angeles.

Hearing professionals at the House Ear Institute (HEI) and House Clinic encourage those who are experiencing a hearing loss to reconsider before trying to save money by not getting hearing aids when recommended. The positive impact that today’s hearing aids can have on a hearing loss patient’s quality of life, including their career success, usually far outweighs the initial investment, according to HEI.

Many people are not aware of the advancements made in hearing aid technology in the past 10 years, which have led to major improvements in quality and choice, says HEI. Some digital hearing aids have background noise reduction capability, directional microphones, the option to have multiple memory settings for different environments, and some have remote controls.

“Hearing aids today are not the same hearing aids that people remember their grandparents using,” says Senne. “The stigma surrounding using a hearing aid is decreasing and many hearing aids are designed so they are hardly noticeable, which helps patients feel less self conscious.”

Hearing loss left untreated with hearing aids can negatively affect a person’s quality of life, and over time, people may find themselves not wanting to go out or be with friends because they find it difficult to participate in conversations, according to HEI.

The BHI cites a 2007 study by the Better Hearing Institute that suggests untreated hearing loss negatively impacts household income by almost $23,000 per year. However, the study found a person using hearing aids can restore lost income by 50%.

“Unfortunately, untreated hearing loss can lead to a person feeling isolated from family and friends,” says Jose Fayad, MD, House Clinic neurotologist and HEI researcher. “We see patients after they have been fitted with a hearing aid and they are so much happier because they are doing better at work and able to participate in life again because they can hear.”

For more information, visit the HEI Web site and the clinic site’s Web site. You also can follow HEI on Twitter, @HouseEar, and Facebook through the Ear Bud and House Ear Institute profile pages.

HEI is a nonprofit organization that strives to advance hearing science through research and education to improve quality of life.

[Source: Article posted on the HEI Web site]