We all know how important it is to see our family doctor, dentist and optometrist to get regular checkups, but when was the last time you had your hearing evaluated?

“There are 48 million people in the United States with hearing loss, and yet many have not had their hearing tested,” said Jean Couchman, Audiologist, Hearing Aid Specialist and owner of Hearing Solutions PLLC in Midlothian.

Losing one’s hearing shouldn’t be viewed as just a normal part of aging. It can be a serious medical condition and has been linked to increased risk of depression, dementia, diabetes and heart disease.

Often, hearing loss happens so gradually that we may not even notice. Our family members may be the first to recognize something is wrong.

“Especially if it’s a gradual hearing loss, people do not realize what they are missing,” Couchman said. “The realization comes to light when family members and others are complaining about them not hearing.”

As a trained audiologist, Couchman has more than 30 years of experience in identifying and treating hearing loss.

“A complete evaluation to determine the type of hearing loss and the degree of hearing loss is essential to treat the problem,” she said. “Family members are encouraged to attend the initial evaluation to help with medical history and to remember information shared during the session. That helps give a more complete picture of the situation.”

Other signs of hearing problems include:

  • › Feeling like others are mumbling or speaking too softly to be heard
  • › Difficulty understanding conversations in noisy or group environments
  • › Difficulty understanding conversations on the phone
  • › Not being able to distinguish the direction of sound
  • › Ringing in one or both ears, also known as tinnitus.

Couchman understands that coming in for a hearing evaluation is a big step for some patients who may feel embarrassment or associate hearing loss with getting older.

“At Hearing Solutions, we focus on making this a positive experience for our patients,” she said. “We listen to their concerns and work together on the best hearing solution for them. After a while they are like family!

“We have amazing hearing technology today to improve understanding conversation in noisy situations, tinnitus management and wireless accessories to use with TV, phones and in group environments. Smartphone apps are available for wireless streaming directly to the hearing devices. You can use your cellphone as a remote control. These devices are small and comfortable and very affordable.”

Hearing Solutions PLLC knows cost is a factor for most customers, but it shouldn’t be a deterrent for getting proper care.

“We often get questions about cost; we address the needs and budget of every patient,” Couchman said.

She cautions to beware of Internet gimmicks and big-box retailers who advertise inexpensive hearing “amplifiers.”

“If you do not have an audiologist to help identify your hearing loss correctly, fit and program your hearing aids properly with follow-up care and maintenance, your cheaper hearing aids will end up in the dresser drawer, and you will still not be hearing,” she said. “Follow-up care is critical!”