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'Hearing aids make life better'

Thanks to her digital hearing aid, Reena can now hear some sounds for the first time. She explains how hearing aids have transformed her life.

Reena Gogna, aged 27 when interviewed, has had severe hearing loss from birth and relies on her hearing aid to hear any kind of sound.

"I was diagnosed with severe hearing loss when I was a toddler and I was fitted for my first hearing aid when I was less than three years old.

"When I was small I used to have tantrums about having to wear a hearing aid. I didn't want to look different from my cousins. But since the age of six or so, I've become less bothered about wearing a hearing aid and now I think nothing of it. 

"The first hearing aids I wore were analogue hearing aids, but a few years ago I started to use a digital hearing aid and it's so much better. I can hear sounds far more clearly now. I can hear car keys jingling, and when I'm driving on the motorway, I can hear if there's a motorbike coming up behind me, which is something I never could before. Also, friends tell me that I don't ask them to repeat what they've said nearly as much as I used to!"

Reena, from Earls Court in London, is keen to dispel the negative image that hearing loss and hearing aids have in general and within the Asian community in particular.

"There's still a lot of stigma around hearing loss and wearing hearing aids. I'm Indian and there are additional cultural barriers. Deafness can be negatively portrayed in the Asian community, and there's a concern that a woman with a perceived disability like deafness will be less 'marriageable'.

"I want people to see that I look really normal, and that wearing a hearing aid is not a big deal. It's no different from wearing glasses really."

Reena, who teaches and is currently studying for a PhD in educational and child psychology, is keen to encourage all young people to get their hearing checked and to use digital hearing aids so that they can hear more clearly and live a full and active life.

"I'd urge anyone who discovers they have hearing loss to go out and seek all the advice and information they can get about hearing impairment. Speak to other people with hearing loss and ask about hearing aids. There's really nothing to be afraid of and they can help you get along in life.

"I don't see my hearing impairment as a disability. Instead, I think of it as a gift because it's made me a stronger, more confident person. It's enabled me to work hard for the things I want to achieve in life and it's allowed me to be a positive role model to young people."

Article provided by NHS Choices

See original on NHS Choices