Hearing is such a vital part of life, but enduring hearing loss may have even deeper impacts than most people realize.
That’s why Ahwatukee Foothills resident Tina Patton, owner of Exceptional Hearing Care, loves her job so much.
Patton comes from a long line of hearing loss. Both of her parents wear hearing aids and her brother began wearing a hearing aid at a young age. In her early 30s her brother pointed out that she may also need to have her hearing corrected.
“I was at a family reunion and we were sitting outside talking,” she said. “As we were heading inside, my brother said he wanted me to sit outside while he grabbed a couple hearing aids for me to try on. I was irritated, but I said OK. I sat out there for about 10 minutes and then I went back into the house and said, ‘Yeah, but those birds weren’t chirping like that before.’ And he said, ‘Yes they were. You just weren’t hearing them.’”
Once she was fitted for her own hearing aid Patton said she realized she’d been missing a lot of important noises. Her brakes in her car were completely shot and because she hadn’t been able to keep up with conversation, she had begun withdrawing slightly from friends. For others, who may loose their hearing gradually over years, hearing loss has much deeper impacts.
Eventually Patton went into business with her brother, opening a hearing aid office in Peoria and one in Mesa. Those offices were eventually sold and now Patton has opened her own office, Exceptional Hearing Care, in Ahwatukee Foothills.
“Studies have found now that the ear signals the brain and helps the brain to keep up our understanding of speech,” Patton said. “It also has been linked to Alzheimer’s, dementia, some diabetes, heart issues, and our balance. There are really a lot of health ramifications to not correcting any changes in your hearing because it really affects our brain health.”
Hearing loss is difficult to detect because it is so gradual. Many people have a tendency to blame someone else’s mumbling or accent for their trouble understanding them. A constant need to turn up the volume on the TV is also a sign that there may be a problem, Patton said. The best thing to do is have hearing checked regularly.
“If the brain doesn’t get a signal for a ‘t’ sound over and over again it loses the ability to decipher that sound,” she said. “People wait and wait and when they come in they think putting on a pair of hearing aids will correct all that. Once your brain has lost the ability to hear certain things it’s very hard to get that back and sometimes you can’t get it back. What we need to do is catch a hearing loss right at the beginning to keep brain activity as high as possible so that it stays as healthy as possible.”
Patton recommends getting hearing checked annually, just like eyes and teeth.
Exceptional Hearing Care is located at 5010 E. Warner Road, suite 114. For more information, visit exceptionalhearingcare.com or call (480) 245-6055.
• Contact writer: (480) 898-7914 or [email protected].