Hearing loss a common but treatable issue

Brian Qvammen has been an audiologist at Sanford Health for 19 years. Over that time, he’s seen a lot of technological advances. However, the warning signs of hearing loss remain the same. Often, loved ones are the first to notice when the television volume is simply too loud or they’re being asked to repeat themselves frequently.

If that sounds like you or someone you know, Qvammen said it is time to listen up and see an audiologist. He sees hearing issues across all ages –- from newborns to members of the century club. Sometimes hearing loss is simply because of genetics. It can be caused by medications and chemotherapy. Most frequently, however, those issues arise after being around loud noises.

“Noise is always a factor that I talk to a lot of people about,” Qvammen said. “Anyone from hunters to workers who use chainsaws and even band directors are around a lot of noise. Even just for concerts, you can get ear plugs that are generic or custom made for your ear. It won’t block out all of the noise but it does mute it just a bit.”

Make an appointment

A hearing loss appointment is typically a half hour. It begins with the patient speaking to the audiologist about loud noises they’ve been exposed to. The audiologist will also take a look at ear drums and bones and then give a hearing test. However, even with the encouragement of loved ones and an audiologist, some are reluctant to admit they’re not hearing as well as they used to.

“People have to be on their own timeframe and become acceptant that they have a hearing loss or they’ll buy a hearing aid and it will sit in a drawer somewhere,” said Qvammen. “But once they try it, there aren’t many people who return them.”

And Qvammen would know –- he wears two hearing aids himself. Sanford Health patients are given a two-month trial period to test new hearing aids. If they don’t like them, they can return them at no cost. However, in addition to fitting and looking better than hearing aids of old, new technology is -– in Qvammen’s words -– really cool.

“Even when my phone rings, it goes to both my hearing aids. I don’t even have to put the phone up to my ear. I can even stream music right to my hearing aids. Technology has really made it really cool,” he said.

Qvammen and other Sanford Health audiologists work with patients to achieve their maximum hearing potential and to provide hearing aids and treatments that help slow down hearing loss, prevent further loss and improve hearing ability.

New location

In addition to its audiology clinics across Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota, Sanford Health is adding a new location in Fargo, North Dakota. This second location is located on the second floor of the Health Care Accessories building at 3223 32nd Ave. S.