Age is no excuse for not getting your hearing tested and maintaining good hearing health. Take it from local media personality Luther Masingill. In his early nineties, he gets his hearing tested at Johnson Audiology and encourages fellow Chattanoogans to follow suit.
"In my business of broadcasting, it's important to hear the person you're talking to," Masingill said, noting that he's fascinated by the whole business of audiology. "You don't want the person you're interviewing to have to repeat themselves over and over. I look forward to getting tuned up so I can hear everything I'm supposed to hear."
Johnson Audiology's Drs. Courtney Guthrie and Megan Johnson agree that getting audiologist-conducted hearing tests are important. "At age 55 it's a good idea to start having your hearing tested so that you have a baseline to compare to," Dr. Guthrie said. "However, you should come sooner if you're having signs of trouble."
Signs of trouble can come in the forms of describing others around you as mumbling when they talk, having trouble hearing in noisy situations such as restaurants, turning up the television volume more often than not and experiencing ringing in the ears. The reason for hearing loss could be as simple as too much ear wax, Dr. Guthrie said, but it's important to have your hearing tested by an audiologist to be sure.
The testing process at Johnson Audiology consists of sitting in a soundproof booth for a pure-tone hearing test that helps audiologists determine the softest sound you can hear. Drs. Guthrie and Johnson also look at patients' level of understanding with speech.
"The whole process is quick and painless," Dr. Guthrie said. "We also make necessary referrals to other doctors if needed and send a report of everything we do to your primary-care doctor. Hearing is a vital part of your overall health."
Dr. Johnson also encourages those with hearing-loss symptoms not to put off getting tested, as untreated hearing loss can lead to more serious problems including depression, isolation from social activities and more. "People who have difficulty hearing often stop doing things they did before because they are embarrassed or frustrated," she said. "Sometimes family members may even avoid them because of the difficulty in communicating."
Recent studies out of John Hopkins University also showed links between levels of hearing loss and dementia. The National Council of Aging reported that out of 4,000 adults with hearing loss, those with higher degrees of it also had higher rates of depression, anxiety and other psychosocial disorders.
"People tell themselves they are too old, but hearing loss is not always related to age," Dr. Guthrie said, adding that sometimes the cost of hearing aids may also hinder patients from getting the help they need. "There are many options available now, including insurances that are beginning to cover hearing aids."
Dr. Johnson added that family members also need to know how important their role is with their loved ones who may have hearing loss and are avoiding being tested.
"A survey conducted by the AARP showed that out of 70 percent of people with hearing loss, more than half said they would see a doctor if a family member or loved one asked them to," she said. "The role of the spouse or family member is very important."
Johnson Audiology is located at 1618 Gunbarrel Road, Suite 102. The office provides diagnostic hearing evaluations and consultations, hearing aid adjustments and repairs. For more information about available services or to schedule a hearing test, call 423-933-3623 or visit johnsonaudiology.com.