Hearing loss is the third most common health problem in the United States, affecting more than 20 million working Americans, according to the American Academy of Audiology. Most people wait an average of ten years before seeking help for their suspected hearing loss, but that delay can be detrimental.
“The longer hearing loss is left untreated, the harder it is for the brain to reprocess the missing sounds,” explains Dr. Esther Fogel, clinical audiologist at LIJ Medical Center and founder of Comprehensive Audiology.
Untreated hearing loss is correlated with increases in cognitive decline, depression, hospitalization, falling, and mortality, as well as affecting one’s communication skills, undermining job performance, straining relationships with friends, family, and coworkers, and leading to anxiety, frustration, and social isolation.
Hearing loss impacts both young and old. Twelve percent of children between 6 and 19 years of age have noise-induced hearing loss, which is permanent and almost always preventable; congenital hearing loss is usually detected at birth, and others acquire it due to chronic ear and other infections and certain medications. For adults over age 65, the rate of hearing loss due simply to aging approaches 30 percent; for patients with diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and chronic kidney disease, the risk is especially high.
“Because children learn to speak by listening, speech and language delays could indicate hearing loss, which is harmful to cognitive, educational, and social development,” says Dr. Fogel. “As soon as kids demonstrate speech, language, or academic delays, ask ‘what?’ too often, or frequently increase the volume on audio electronics to unreasonably loud levels, they should have their hearing checked.”
Dr. Fogel, who is a mother of four, says the rule of thumb for headphones is that if the parent can hear the music from a distance or if the child cannot hear the parent calling his name, the music is too loud. Adults can teach children to value and protect their hearing by avoiding loud noises, wearing proper protection in noisy settings, and making thorough hearing exams a routine part of their own primary care.
“Seeking early treatment can improve performance at work, enhance interpersonal relationships, and help older adults stay active physically, socially, and cognitively — and for longer,” says Dr. Fogel. “Baseline hearing tests should be routine for adults aged 65 and over.”
Dr. Fogel, a native of Lawrence, has made the long-term hearing health of adults a priority of her private practice in Lynbrook. Unlike traditional one-size-fits-all hearing tests, her customized evaluations consider all aspects of a patient’s medical history and simulates authentic noisy environments to optimize the hearing potential of each patient.
Treatments are tailored to each patient’s unique communication needs and cosmetic preferences, and might include bluetooth capabilities, TV and phone amplification, and custom-made ear plugs.
In one example, a lawyer in his mid-60s was experiencing difficulty hearing in the courtroom. After evaluating for hearing loss, Dr. Fogel customized discreet, high-tech hearing aids that amplified speech in the courtroom and streamed cell phone calls directly to his hearing aids. Relieved, the lawyer’s confidence skyrocketed, and his job performance and family life thrived. Another patient in her 90s was diagnosed with moderate to severe hearing loss, but she refused to wear hearing aids. Unable to communicate with her, frustrated family members turned to Dr. Fogel who suggested a number of other safe, effective, and comfortable devices.
Dr. Fogel’s concern is not limited to older adults. She provides intensive one-on-one care in a pediatric setting, and is a go-to diagnostician for babies and children of all ages and developmental stages. After earning her doctorate from the CUNY Graduate Center, Dr. Fogel completed her residency at LIJ Medical Center’s Hearing and Speech Center, where she continues to evaluate and treat patients as young as preemies.
Comprehensive Audiology is family-friendly, wheelchair-accessible, and equipped to test, treat, and monitor patients of all ages, at 261 Broadway in Lynbrook. Call 516-387-4000 or email info@ComprehensiveAudiology.com.
Source: Comprehensive Audiology