Hearing concerns
Hart says hearing loss is important to address

By Josh Perttunen - Enterprise Staff

Sept. 25, 2014

Lisa Hart, left, and her patient care coordinator JoEllen Wollner, are scheduling appointments for free hearing screenings at the Avada location in Downtown Oconomowoc, 169 E. Wisconsin Ave., Suite 6. 
Submitted photo

OCONOMOWOC - ďPeople donít take their hearing as seriously as they take other aspects of their health,Ē said hearing instrument specialist Lisa Hart, of the Avada Audiology & Hearing Care Center locations in Madison and Oconomowoc.

Hart, who shares her companyís belief that people who are 55 years old or older should sign up for a free hearing screening, has heard people say that itís ďjust their hearingĒ and that they expect it to be declining with age.

"The saddest part of hearing loss is that people will withdraw from conversations because they fear looking foolish... It is a very isolating experience."  -Lisa Hart

On Tuesday, she discussed with the Enterprise hearing health, misconceptions about hearing loss and what can be done to aid those who want to hear. 


ENTERPRISE: What can you do at Avada and what might prompt a referral elsewhere?

HART: We offer free hearing screenings, similar to what you may remember from school, where you don headphones and hit a button when you hear the beep. They take just a few minutes, and are important to establish that baseline.

Itís a preventative measure like a mammogram, cancer screening, vision screening or a physical. We are trying to prevent the type of hearing loss that is associated with age before it occurs.

We are not physicians trying to uncover a medical issue, however. Any signs that the hearing loss could be a medical issue will prompt us to immediately refer our patient to a physician.


ENTERPRISE: What causes hearing loss?

HART: The majority of hearing loss is a combination of age and hearing trauma, such as chronic ear infections or a noisy environment. The truth is that good old-fashioned hearing loss is something that will happen to all of us at some point.


ENTERPRISE: What are some misconceptions about hearing loss?

HART: Nearly 40 million people are estimated to have hearing loss, but only 1.5 million are being treated. They arenít realizing how important it is. It is imperative that people take hearing seriously.

We donít hear with our ears, we hear with our brains. The ear is just a vehicle for the brain to get speech sounds correctly. If a brain doesnít hear a speech sound for long enough period of time, it loses its ability to understand that sound. A study by Johns Hopkins University and the National Institute on Aging found that seniors with hearing loss are more likely to develop dementia over time.


ENTERPRISE: How can hearing loss affect a patientís life?

HART: The saddest part of hearing loss is that people will withdraw from conversations because they fear looking foolish. They donít want to respond incorrectly to a question that was asked and have people laugh at them. It is a very isolating experience. There is also a safety component. Itís important that we be able to hear the oncoming cars and locate where they are coming from, or to hear the sirens on emergency vehicles and know which direction they are coming from. 

You also want to hear for sentimental reasons; it is important to hear the voices of loved ones. There is hearing loss in my own family, so I know not only what the patient experiences, but what his or her family members go through.


ENTERPRISE: What are some signs itís time to get your hearing checked?

HART: The 10 warning signs of hearing loss are when people seem to mumble or when you have trouble understanding them, ask them to repeat themselves or find phone conversations increasingly difficult. Your family may complain that you play the radio or TV too loudly and you no longer hear normal household sounds, such as the dripping of a faucet or the ringing of a doorbell. There may also be difficulties hearing when your back is turned to the speaker or you may have been told that you speak too loudly. Also, you may experience ringing in your ears or have difficulty understanding when in a large group or crowd.


ENTERPRISE: How far has hearing aid technology come since you started in this business five years ago?

HART: There are aids that are virtually invisible. They come in all different types and styles, with a different price points.

Hartís office is located at 169 E. Wisconsin Ave. Suite #6, in downtown Oconomowoc. Her office number is 262-567-5044.

Email: Jperttunen@conleynet.com