Fear. Disbelief. Anger. Uncertainty. Helplessness. These are all very normal reactions when facing the diagnosis of hearing loss. This is true whether you’re a recently diagnosed adult, or the parent of a beautiful newborn. Every individual’s journey is different, but the core response is the same: This news means your life is about to change dramatically.
While the roller coaster of emotions that follow diagnosis are overwhelming, you can take a certain amount of solace in the fact that yours is a common reaction for anyone who has ever experienced hearing loss.
The good news is that eventually, as you learn more about your particular hearing loss situation and the various solutions that are available to you, you just may find yourself filled with hope, recognizing that hearing loss is just part of who you are; it doesn’t define you.
Following diagnosis, you will undoubtedly have lots of questions. How did this happen? What does it mean? What can I do now? Conquer the unknown by arming yourself with information. There are any number of ways to research hearing loss, and to find out what may be best for you and your family. Thanks to the Internet, you may not even have to leave home to access the latest hearing loss research and treatments.
Online you will find details about the different types of hearing loss, and begin to decide about appropriate communication modalities. This is particularly important for parents of infants with hearing loss, since early intervention is key for both oral and visual language acquisition.
Another good resource for information is your public library. Libraries at universities and community colleges, especially those associated with a medical school, can provide an infinite supply of information, as well as the latest hearing loss research.
An obvious, but sometimes-overlooked resource, is your doctor. Your family physician, ear, nose and throat doctor (ENT) or audiologist may provide the initial diagnosis and treatment options. Get as much information as possible before leaving the exam room. Don’t be afraid to be persistent, or even get a second opinion if you don’t feel like your concerns are being addressed. As is the case with many health issues, always trust your intuition.
By all means, be social — as in social media. Chances are that someone you know will know someone else who is facing a similar situation and brimming with real-life experience that can help. Make the connection. There are also online communities and forums, similar to HearingLikeMe, that can provide a virtual network for you; one that is available 24/7.
Gathering information about hearing loss is one thing. It’s quite another to move forward with decisions about how to address the hearing loss. Will that include learning American Sign Language? Being fitted for hearing aids? Researching cochlear implants? If technology is a part of your plan, you may be surprised at how far it’s advanced in the last 15 to 20 years.
There is a dizzying selection of hearing solutions on the market today. These can include digital hearing aids, cochlear implants and FM devices. While the power and impact of this technology has opened new doors for individuals with hearing loss in ways only imagined 20 years ago, it is important to understand the elements that lead to user satisfaction. These include :
Finding a reputable and respected audiologist or hearing professional can also make a huge difference in a successful hearing outcome. Look for a professional whose primary goal is to match your specific listening needs to whichever technology provides the best outcome for you.