By Tamar Sullivan
According to the American Academy of Audiology, hearing loss is the third-most-common health problem in the United States and affects more than 20 million Americans in the workforce. Most people wait an average of ten years before seeking help for their suspected hearing loss, but delaying treatment can be detrimental.
“The longer hearing loss is left untreated, the harder it is for the brain to reprocess the missing sounds,” explains Esther Fogel, Au.D., clinical audiologist at LIJ Medical Center and founder of Comprehensive Audiology.
Hearing loss may affect one’s communication skills, which can undermine job performance, strain relationships with friends, family, and coworkers, and lead to anxiety, frustration, and social isolation. Untreated hearing loss is correlated with increases in cognitive decline, depression, hospitalization, falling, and mortality. Although patients with diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and chronic kidney disease are at especially high risk of hearing loss, nearly 30 percent of adults over the age of 65 suffer from hearing loss simply due to aging.
“Seeking early treatment can improve performance at work, enhance interpersonal relationships, and help older adults stay active physically, socially, and cognitively–and for longer,” says Dr. Fogel. “At the very least, baseline hearing tests should be routine for adults ages 65 and over.”
Fortunately for residents of the Five Towns and surrounding areas, Dr. Fogel, a native of Lawrence, has made the long-term hearing health of adults a foremost priority of her private practice and will begin seeing patients in her fully renovated office in the coming weeks. Unlike traditional one-size-fits-all hearing tests, Dr. Fogel’s customized hearing evaluations consider all aspects of patients’ medical histories and simulate authentic noisy environments in order to optimize the hearing potential of each of her patients.
Conveniently located in Lynbrook, Comprehensive Audiology’s state-of-the-art equipment and rehabilitation options are as advanced as Dr. Fogel’s expertise in the field. Treatments are tailored to patients’ unique communication needs, and with access to the most up-to-date assisted listening devices and hearing aids on the market, Dr. Fogel can accommodate cosmetic preferences, Bluetooth capabilities, TV and phone amplification, and custom-made earplugs to enhance her patients’ comfort and overall quality of life.
In one typical case in point, a lawyer in his mid-sixties was experiencing difficulty hearing in the courtroom. After evaluating for hearing loss, Dr. Fogel customized discreet, high-tech hearing aids that amplified speech in the courtroom and streamed cellphone calls directly to his hearing aids. Relieved, the lawyer’s confidence skyrocketed, and even his job performance and family life thrived. Another patient in her nineties was diagnosed with moderate to severe hearing loss, but she refused to wear hearing aids. Unable to communicate with her, frustrated family members turned to Dr. Fogel, who suggested a number of other safe, effective, and comfortable devices. Needless to say, the family is grateful to have their grandmother back.
Dr. Fogel’s singular concern for her patients is by no means limited to older adults. In light of her broad education in speech disorders and her experience providing intensive one-on-one care in a pediatric setting, she has become a go-to diagnostician for babies and children of all ages and developmental stages. After earning her doctorate from the CUNY Graduate Center, Dr. Fogel completed her residency at LIJ Medical Center’s Hearing and Speech Center, where she continues to evaluate and treat patients as young as preemies.
Although congenital hearing loss is usually detected at birth, acquired hearing loss due to chronic ear and other infections, certain medications, and exposure to loud noise can occur at any age. Some 12 percent of children between 6 and 19 years of age have noise-induced hearing loss, which is permanent yet almost always preventable. For our tech-savvy headset-wearing youngsters, that statistic is on the rise.
“Because children learn to speak by listening,” she explains, “speech and language delays could indicate hearing loss, which is harmful to cognitive, educational, and social development. As soon as kids demonstrate speech, language, or academic delays, ask ‘what?’ too often, or frequently increase the volume on audio electronics to unreasonably loud levels, they should have their hearing checked.”
“But,” emphasizes the doctor and mother of four, “parents aren’t powerless.” Dr. Fogel’s rule of thumb for headphones is that if the parent can hear the music from a distance, or if the child cannot hear the parent calling his name, the music is too loud. Adults can teach children to value and protect their hearing by avoiding loud noises, wearing proper protection in noisy settings, and making thorough hearing exams a routine part of their own primary care.
Comprehensive Audiology is family-friendly, wheelchair-accessible, and equipped to test, treat, and monitor patients of all ages. An archetype for customized, advanced preventive care, Dr. Fogel’s practice is a much-needed addition to our community’s modernizing medical infrastructure.
Comprehensive Audiology is located at 261 Broadway in Lynbrook. Appointments can be made by calling 516-387-4000 or e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.