Opinion

Millions of adults with mild to moderate hearing loss can now obtain hearing aids without having to undergo an expensive, frequently uncomfortable medical test according to the Food and Drug Administration. By removing this limitation, individuals all around the United States will be able to buy these life-saving devices online or at their neighborhood pharmacy. Lights are dimmed. Start the sultry music. Along the road, they might even be able to save their marriages.

My husband and I were fighting continuously fifteen years ago. Screaming bouts broke out during even the nicest conversations. I would always break down in tears after a discussion about what to eat for dinner and wonder what had gone wrong for my spouse to be unable to simply say, “Let’s order in Chinese cuisine,” without getting angry. I broke down and asked him why he was always shouting at me and why he couldn’t just speak to me in a normal tone one day when we were arguing about who had left the back door open. He yelled, “Because you can’t hear me.”

Oh, I reflected, and all of a sudden it all made sense.

In response to my repeated requests for friends and relatives to repeat themselves, they often enunciate each and every syllable slowly, as if they were teaching me how to speak English for the first time.

My family is prone to hearing impairment. In Cincinnati, Ohio, where I was raised, I had a mother who had a severe hearing impairment. As most of people gathering around the table were also hard of hearing, the Jewish holidays were often raucous and loud celebrations. In our home, dinner talk would typically be at a decibel level that would be considered ear-piercing.

I therefore experienced the guilt that comes with having this condition growing up.

My daughter was diagnosed with a moderate to severe loss when she was 2 years old. I felt heartbroken and totally accountable. And yet, despite my family’s history and the courageous way my daughter was handling her current circumstance, I was hesitant to discuss my issue. I didnt thought I had one.

Or, perhaps more likely, I was ashamed to admit it.

But as I reflect back on my life, there were many indicators. When I was a little girl in primary school, I recall taking an audiologist’s test and receiving a reprimand because the audiologist believed I wasn’t paying attention and purposefully blew the test. She somehow never considered the possibility that I might have hearing loss.

In response to my repeated requests for friends and relatives to repeat themselves, they often enunciate each and every syllable slowly, as if they were teaching me how to speak English for the first time. I’ve been caught lying more times than I want to count, pretending to hear something when it was obvious from my reaction that I hadn’t.

I scheduled a consultation with an audiologist at The Center for Hearing and Communication (CHC) in New York City after my husband’s statements struck a chord with me. Despite knowing exactly what to expect from having accompanied my daughter numerous times, I was anxious before the exam. I wasn’t expecting the outcomes, which helped to explain a lot of my marital conflict. My spouse was correct; I was deaf. My loss in both ears ranged from moderate to severe.

I still believed they weren’t for me, even though my own kid wore them and benefited from them. The only folks I know who received assistance were either very old or very young. They weren’t urbanites in their forties.

You don’t just put on a set of hearing aids and immediately disappear into the distance, at least not me. It can be difficult to adjust to these modern marvels. Every hearing aid increases the volume of the sound, and many digital ones greatly reduce the amount of background noise that can be so distracting during conversations. However, your brain needs to be retrained to adapt to the novel input from your ears. But trust me, it’s worthwhile. Every morning when I wake up, I want to put my hearing aids on right away. Why then do a large portion of the estimated 48 million people in the U.S. population with hearing loss not receive them?

Without a doubt, price matters. The price of the hearing aids I bought, which are intended for those who require the most audiological assistance to access full sound, was (gasp!) $7,500 when you include the examination and follow-up appointments. Although the severity of my loss prevents me from taking advantage of the FDA’s new regulations, I have faith that the increase in demand will drive down the price of aids for everyone. Medicare provides no coverage for reasons I’ll never understand. Not even close to any. Few private insurance companies do the same, too. I paid for mine through a flexible spending account.

The stigma of wearing them is another factor. Even if they were beneficial to my own kid, who wore them, I still felt they weren’t for me. The only folks I know who received assistance were either very old or very young. They weren’t urbanites in their forties.

However, everything is about to change. Hearing aids are about to enter the mainstream.

Audiologists should continue to evaluate people to better understand their unique circumstances. However, it will appear as though everyone has something in their ears if only a small portion of the over 48 million people who require aids have them as a result of expanded availability and lower costs. This normalization will significantly reduce the stigma. I will no longer feel unique, but rather like everyone else.

There are also other advantages to addressing your hearing loss. You will be addressing the one dementia risk factor that can be mitigated. Also, you are less prone to experience loneliness, which frequently results in depression.

The most significant relationships in your life are your marriage and other significant relationships.

I was shocked by what I had been missing when I put my hearing aids on for the first time at the age of 45. the refrigerator’s whine. the rain’s pitter-patter. My hubby gently enquiring about my meal preferences.

Who knew the FDA employed so many romantics?

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