Local business helping to prevent hearing loss

Noreen Davis, Hearing Instrument Specialist at Miracle Ear in Columbia City, sits behind her desk.
Staff Writer

There is an old saying that reminds us we don't know what we have until it's gone. That adage is especially true for our sense of hearing. Hearing loss affects so many parts of our bodies including the brain, other senses and our emotions.
The month of May is recognized as Better Hearing and Speech month. It is a reminder to people who might struggle with hearing loss to get an evaluation. The Miracle Ear office in Columbia City not only provides those initial hearing screenings for patients but also continues with preventive services and follow-up appointments to make sure the patients needs are met.
"With better hearing month our main goal is to educate people on the difference between a hearing device and an amplifier," said Noreen Davis who is the office's Hearing Instrument Specialist.
Davis said there are a lot of advertisements for amplifiers. These devices help by making noise louder for people to hear. The problem can be that they make all noise louder so it can still make hearing difficult. That is why Davis said it is important to come in and get fitted for an actual hearing device that can meet the needs of each specific patient.
"When people see the results of the evaluation they are more willing to seek help," said Davis. "Giving communication back to people is rewarding."
The Miracle Ear office is owned by Vicki Fisher who along with Davis sees patients on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday mornings. The store has been in its current location at 232 W. Van Buren St. for seven years now. In that time Davis said the effect of hearing loss on people has become substantially clear.
Davis said with hearing loss comes auditory deprivation to the brain. Our other senses then try to overcompensate for that loss leaving the body exhausted. Hearing loss can also lead to withdrawal and depression as well as problems with speech.
"People who experience even mild hearing loss are two-times more likely to be diagnosed with dementia," said Davis. "The brain just isn't receiving the information.
The office sees between 15 and 20 patients per week. While there are still some stereotypes that exist about hearing loss people are now more willing to receive a hearing screening now than in the past. Although Davis added that the age of patients at the store has gone up in recent years. While patients used to come in between 60 and 70 years old for their first visit it now seems to fall closer to the 70-80 year old age group.
One service that Miracle Ear offers for its patients is the care it provides after the initial screening. Davis said once you pay at Miracle Ear you receive a lifetime of services including cleaning devices and ongoing treatment.
"It's important for people to educate themselves about hearing," said Davis. "We keep people on a schedule for check-ups to make sure everything is good."
Hearing loss can be caused by a number of things. For some people it can be from working around heavy machinery for multiple years or for others it could be from playing music in a band. The important thing is recognizing the signs of hearing loss like turning up the TV too loud or mumbling. Regardless of age once the symptoms become visible it's important to go through a hearing screening and determine the appropriate course of services.