News | Published January 21, 2013 | Written by Leslie Purcell, AuD, audiology, Mount Nittany Physician Group

Hearing evaluation may help fill in the blanks

Did you notice difficulty hearing around the table at the holidays? Were you unable to follow conversation during the tailgate? Have you found yourself not participating in social events because you cannot hear? What about your loved ones? Did you notice a special relative or friend was less engaged in your family gatherings this holiday season?

If these scenarios seem familiar then you or someone you love may need to have their hearing evaluated. Most often hearing loss occurs gradually and a person may not notice that he is not hearing well until you are in these more challenging listening situations. Family members may notice that their loved ones are not participating in the conversation or may respond incorrectly to questions. When a person has hearing loss, they are gradually losing sounds of speech over time. When a person is in a challenging situation they are often ‘filling in the blanks’ of sounds they may not hear.  For instance if you say, “What time is the show?” They will hear “__at  _ime is the __ow?”  That’s a lot of filling in to do!

With the filling in of those blanks can come frustration or isolation for your loved one since he may be hesitant to admit that he is having problems hearing or interacting in certain situations – like family gatherings, concerts, and car trips.

As we start the New Year, I would like to challenge you to pay attention to not only yourself, but maybe family members who are not interacting as much as usual. If you have noticed a loved one who is “filling in the blanks” it may be time to consider discussing amplification devices that may help. Amplification options are very flexible now and can certainly help you to get the sounds you are missing loud enough so that your brain can make sense of them. If you can make the signal loud enough and clear enough to get to the brain then it will learn how to organize the speech. If you do not keep these areas of the hearing nerve stimulated then they will lose the ability to process speech.  Seeking help should not be delayed!

The first step is to schedule a hearing evaluation with a licensed audiologist. Everyone should have a hearing evaluation annually so your audiologist can monitor your hearing over time and suggest the best treatment for hearing issues. A licensed audiologist can also fit you for a hearing device, monitor the effectiveness of an existing device and suggest other treatment programs that will provide options that would be right for you so that you can get back to hearing and get back to living. 

Leslie Purcell, AuD, is a licensed audiologist with Mount Nittany Physician Group ENT in Boalsburg, PA. To contact her office please call 814.466.6396 or visit