The effects of untreated hearing loss

By Karen Davidson, Pūkenga Atawhai (Community Health Nurse)

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You might think hearing loss only happens when you’re old. Not true! It can strike at any time and any age, even childhood. For the young, even a mild or moderate case of hearing loss could bring difficulty learning, developing speech and building the important interpersonal skills necessary to foster self-esteem and succeed in school and life.

Studies have linked hearing loss to:

  • irritability, negativism and anger,
  • fatigue, tension, stress and depression,
  • avoidance or withdrawal from social situations,
  • social rejection and loneliness,
  • reduced alertness and increased risk to personal safety,
  • impaired memory and ability to learn new tasks,
  • reduced job performance and earning power,
  • diminished psychological and overall health.

Recently we held our first collaborative hearing screening clinic with Life Unlimited Charitable Trust at Motueka for whānau who were 16 years or older. Our TPO nurses completed the preparation and planning. On the day of the clinic, the Trust’s Kim Howell completed hearing screenings for all whānau there. We had a full day of assessments and are looking forward to another clinic in six weeks.

What can you do to minimise hearing loss?

There are some easy things you can do for yourself and your whānau.

  • Wear ear protection around any loud noises.
  • Observe for hearing loss. (TV and radio too loud, missing conversation.)
  • Support your whānau to have their hearing tested regularly during their other annual check-ups. 

The TPO team at Motueka can help schedule an ear examination to check general ear health and look for excess wax that needs to be removed prior to the hearing test (ph: 03 5281155).

For members of your whānau who have hearing loss, be sure to check the date on smoke alarms to ensure they are not past the expiry date. Replace any expired batteries to ensure alarms will work in the event of a fire.

  Aunty Norah Bradley with the installation of a shaker alarm

Aunty Norah Bradley with the installation of a shaker alarm

First for Motueka

We were also pleased to assist Aunty Norah Bradley with the installation of a shaker alarm.  The alarm is great for those who have difficulty hearing smoke alarms and it has a shaker that is activated under your pillow when there is an emergency.