Having hearing loss can be difficult. But trying to explain it to someone who has normal hearing can be even harder. For example, try explaining the difference between “hearing” and “understanding” to someone with normal hearing. It can take hours.
To help provide a better understanding of what it’s like to live with moderate hearing loss, we ask hearing professionals in our Greenhouse Class each fall to participate in an experiment. They are asked to wear earplugs for six hours and then journal their experiences as part of their training in this special class. They show how just one day with a mild to moderate hearing loss can impact someone’s life at home, at work, alone and in social settings.
Mild to moderate hearing loss, severe hearing loss and all types of hearing loss can increase stress, worry and cause frustration and embarrassment
Christy B. chose to wear her earplugs at work. What she experiences is what someone with untreated mild to moderate hearing loss often goes through every day in many professional environments:
“I felt very stressed and tense. I spent the whole time concentrating, and more than once, felt the need to take [the earplugs] out because it was interfering with my work. I felt insecure as if I had to stay on my toes to not miss anything. I caught myself repeating what coworkers said for confirmation. I wouldn’t take my eyes off them because I didn’t want to miss anything, and it was embarrassing to ask them to keep repeating things. Nothing was as clear as I felt it should be and that was frustrating.”
At home, Christy described the following: “I was exhausted. I spent most of the day living in a slightly different world and just subtle changes I didn’t notice throughout the experiment started to present. My neck and back hurt. I had a headache. To be quite honest, I was a little moody. It’s amazing to me how exhausting, physically and emotionally, it was to have a little of my hearing altered.”
No matter what types of hearing loss you experience, it can be exhausting, negatively impact work and isolate you from friends and family
Joe S. wore his earplugs at lunch and at the office afterwards. He noticed immediate difficulty hearing in the noisy restaurant and relied on lip reading and context clues to follow his friend’s conversation. At the office, Joe notes the abrupt struggle in performing his job and, with his newfound hearing loss, he lost the ability to multitask. When he returns home, he notes not only the desire to isolate himself but also his family’s frustration with him.
“Right off the bat, I noticed I was having trouble with my job. It was very difficult to understand what people were saying. I also spoke louder than necessary. I was unable to hear the bell when patients would walk in. It was very difficult to complete each task within a normal timeframe. I was not able to work and listen to someone else. Cleaning the hearing aids while also speaking to an associate became impossible. Hearing loss definitely has a major impact on your work and your ability to perform your job functions.”
Afterwards, Joe noted just how thankful he was for his hearing. “We take so much for granted and our hearing is definitely one. My mind and body were tired from straining to hear and understand all day. My brain was fatigued from working so hard to decipher sentences and phrases from a jumbled mess. Communication became very difficult and frustration ran high. I didn’t want to be around people as much as I normally do because of the trouble I had hearing and understanding. Also, my family was becoming frustrated with me because I couldn’t hear them when they needed me.”
Hearing loss can impact your independence and ability to communicate effectively
Zvi H. noted feeling frustrated, depressed and even started using a common coping mechanism.
“Conversing with people was very difficult. I constantly had to say “what” and ask people to speak louder. At times I just shook my head and made believe I heard what people said, just to avoid embarrassment. It became very frustrating, and I even began to feel depressed that I couldn’t communicate normally. Speaking on the phone wasn’t possible … I kept on worrying that I wouldn’t hear people when they were going to speak to me.
When I was standing by the take-out counter ordering food, I was worried that my speech sounded strange and that I wouldn’t hear the man behind the counter if he had a question for me. I was sitting with some friends and they couldn’t stop laughing at how loud I was talking. My wife and kids were getting frustrated because I kept saying ‘What’ and ‘Please repeat yourself louder.’ I really got a sense of how difficult communication can be for someone who has a hearing loss. Communication, which is something that should be easy and natural, became a stressful activity when I was occluded which caused me stress and embarrassment. Not only was I affected tremendously but so were the people around me.”
Your hearing loss affects those close to you and the way you experience life
For S. Temby, she experienced numerous problems with family and friends. After removing the earplugs at the end of six hours, she also noted that the experience helped her understand her grandmother’s behaviour better in the past.
“I had to strain to hear people speak to me. I could not understand what my grandchildren said to me. I found myself watching their actions and faces trying to figure out what they were talking about. Talking to my husband about what I could make him for lunch (from the kitchen to the office) was absolutely maddening. After asking my friends ‘huh?’ a few times [at dinner later that evening], it was just easier to eat and let them talk. They would look at me like I was an idiot for asking them to repeat. Everything was dulled down and muddled.”
“I was relieved when I took out the plugs. I instantly felt calmer and at ease … it was quite an experience. It makes me see more clearly why my paternal grandmother did some of the things that she did. The TV was always turned up so loud that you couldn’t think straight. She was asking me to repeat often. She chose to stay closeted in her home because she said it was just too hard to be out in public. Did we offer her hearing aids? Yes, we did. She would have none of it. She said that she didn’t need it if she just stayed home. The last 8 years of her life were like this.”
Untreated hearing loss has a profound impact on a person’s life and overall wellness. It can result in negative emotions and consequences both at home and at work. More than that, it affects not just the person with hearing loss but everyone in their lives, as well.
No matter whether you experience mild hearing loss, severe hearing loss or any type of hearing loss, it’s important to help friends, families and coworkers better understand what we go through each day with our hearing loss so that we can work together for better communication.
If you are experiencing problems with your hearing, contact Nantwich Hearing Centre to talk about your options.
Earwax can certainly cause hearing loss. But it doesn’t occur as commonly as one might think. In fact, very few patients who are seen by hearing healthcare professionals have hearing loss that is literally due to excessive earwax (cerumen impaction).
More likely, the patient has experienced a gradual decline in their hearing over time and the hearing loss has become enough that the patient is starting to have difficulty communicating with others. It is when communication starts to become affected that people seek help.
What, you might ask, causes cerumen impaction? Anything that affects the normal outward flow of ear wax may cause impaction, such as advanced age, narrow or abnormally shaped ear canals, use of a hearing aid, incorrect use of cotton swabs, or using needles, hairpins, or other objects to clean the ears.
A full earwax blockage is very rare
What is important to know here is that soundwaves only need a tiny opening in the ear canal to reach the eardrum. So, unless the ear canal is plugged tightly with earwax, there shouldn’t be a noticeable hearing loss. When cerumen impaction is severe enough to cause hearing loss, there will likely be other signs and symptoms noticed, such as dizziness, ear fullness (a feeling that something is plugging up your ear), itchiness or pain in the ears and/or ringing in the ears. Rarely does cerumen impaction occur without additional signs that “something is wrong.”
Nantwich Hearing Centre can help remove excessive earwax
The good news is that hearing loss caused by cerumen impaction is easily treated. If your hearing loss is as simple as having your ears cleaned, GREAT! If not, visit us and you will be in the right place to accurately uncover what might be causing your perception of hearing loss.
Setting up an appointment with us is easy and convenient. Just get in touch and we’ll arrange an appointment that is suitable for you.
Legendary singer Roger Daltrey, from British rock band ‘The Who’ has confessed that decades of loud music has left him with a hearing loss.
According to The Mirror, Daltrey spoke out to the crowd at a solo show at the Hard Rock Resort in Las Vegas on Tuesday night, first revealing his is deaf and then offering advice to his fans.“The trouble with these ear things that I wear is that I am very, very deaf,” Daltrey said. “And I advise you all – all you rock-and-roll fans – take your earplugs to the gigs. If only we had known when we were young … we are lip-reading.” The way Daltrey performs with his hearing loss now is much different than back in the day. When performing live, he uses a combination of in-ear monitors and lipreading to help follow the music. Despite his hearing loss, he vowed that he won’t stop performing and hopes to continue playing music for many years to come. “I am lucky to be doing what I do – so thank you,” the 74-year-old said.
Hearing loss runs in the band
Daltrey isn’t the only member of The Who to admit to hearing loss. Co-founder Pete Townsend also has hearing problems of his own. “Pete deafened himself in the recording studio’ because of this, it affected the performance as ‘he had to stand next to the speakers to hear anything,” Daltrey told the Daily Mail in 2011. “I don’t know what Pete will do. I don’t want to do a tour and have him end up completely deaf.” Read more: Why musicians should be more aware of hearing loss Townsend wears hearing aids, although unlike Daltrey he links his hearing loss to listening to music through amplified headphones when he was younger, instead of loud concert music. When playing acoustic guitar, Townsend surrounded himself with plexiglass to shield himself from the deafening volume of his fellow bandmates. The two are among many famous musicians who have hearing loss, including Eric Clapton, Brian Johnson, Martin Kemp.
Read more on this article here
It is unlikely that anyone reading this post does not know someone suffering from, or affected by dementia. There are 1.2 million people in the UK (48 million worldwide) living with dementia. It is a far reaching disease which not only affects the individual, but all of their family, friends, and carers. Hearing loss has been identified as one of nine key modifiable factors that contributes to development of dementia.
Other factors were lack of education (8%), smoking (5%), failing to treat depression (4%), physical inactivity (3%), isolation (2%), high blood pressure (2%), obesity (1%), and type 2 diabetes (1%). The percentages are indications of how much of the risk each factor contributes, hearing loss carried the largest risk at 9%. These are all categorised as modifiable, as they can all be treated at least to some degree.
There are suggestions that hearing loss may add to the burden of a vulnerable brain, and increase the progression of dementia. Both hearing loss and dementia have been reported to cause increased social disengagement and depression, so may exacerbate or accelerate each other’s symptoms.
It is not yet completely clear whether the use of hearing aids and other instruments can prevent the onset of dementia. Hearing loss is known as a modifiable risk factor because it can be addressed and improved. Social isolation and depression contribute 6% of the modifiable dementia risk to potential cases, and hearing loss has long been known to cause both of these conditions. With this in mind, treating hearing loss, by default, often also takes care of two other major factors, and could potentially reduce dementia risk by 15%. Other risk factors could be addressed: by stopping smoking, keeping your mind agile, and regular exercise, and you could potentially negate most of the prospective 35% risk – vastly reducing the possibility of dementia onset.
Dementia is an unfortunate inevitability for many people. However disheartening this seems, to be able to potentially negate the effects of 35% of the risks puts us in a very strong position. Knowledge is always the first step towards a cure, and though currently all advice is only preventative, we are certainly heading in the right direction.
If you are worried about your hearing health in relation to dementia (or otherwise) and would like some advice, please do not hesitate to contact us for professional, friendly guidance.
Phone: 01270 611 212
Observed Hearing Loss and Incident Dementia in a Multiethnic Cohort
(Golub et al. 2017)
Hearing loss as a risk factor for dementia: A systematic review
(Thomson et al 2017)
Age-related hearing loss and dementia: a 10 year national population-based study
(Su et al. 2017)
Dementia prevention, intervention, and care
(Livingston et al. 2017)
VANCOUVER, Sept. 19, 2016 /CNW/ – Professor Yves Joanette, PhD, FCAHS, Chair of the World Dementia Council and Scientific Director of CIHR’s Institute of Aging, gave a keynote address last night at the 33rd World Congress of Audiology (WCA) in Vancouver. Professor Joanette used the opportunity to bring attention to the critical global issue of dementia and also highlighted the relationship to hearing loss in seniors.
“Dementia is a global challenge that is only going to grow as the global population ages and seniors live longer. Unfortunately, we now know that people suffering from untreated hearing loss are more likely to develop dementia than those who have normal hearing function,” said Professor Joanette. “The global dementia crisis will increase at an alarming rate between 2016 and 2050, and it is imperative that individuals suffering from hearing loss take preventative steps to reduce the likelihood of developing dementia in their lifetime.”
Currently, over 44 million people globally suffer from dementia. That number is forecasted to rise to 135 million by 2050, due to the aging population and increasing life expectancy. In 2016, an individual is diagnosed with dementia every three seconds. The social and emotional cost of living with dementia affects not only the individual but the entire network of friends and family. There are preventative steps individuals can take to reduce their chances of developing dementia. Persons suffering from untreated hearing loss can also take steps to minimize the risk of developing dementia.
“As colleagues in the field of Audiology, we know that communication health is integral to social development, and it remains so throughout a person’s life. While the evidence is clear on the relationship between poor hearing health and an increased incidence of dementia, more research and collaboration are needed to better prevent, diagnose, and treat this disease,” added Joanette. “Canada is lucky to have the Canadian Consortium on Neurodegeneration in Aging, an all-star team on neurodegenerative aging, which includes links with sensory impairments. Together with colleagues around the world we are working collaboratively to combat this growing health challenge. Through continued support in research and innovation, we hope to ease and eventually eliminate the suffering for millions of people.”
While research has linked hearing loss and dementia, more research is needed to further study whether there is a common neurodegenerative cause/risk factor between hearing impairments and dementia. Audiologists and other hearing health experts are committed to combat this critical issue before it continues to escalate into a larger health emergency.
About the WCA
The World Congress of Audiology is the biennial Congress of the International Society of Audiology and is jointly hosted by Speech-Language and Audiology Canada and the Canadian Academy of Audiology in Vancouver, Canada.
Read more at http://www.newswire.ca/news-releases/world-dementia-council-chair-previews-growing-global-dementia-crisis-and-link-to-hearing-loss-in-seniors-593999811.html
There are roughly 37.2 trillion cells in the human body, each of which can be categorised into one of about 200 different types. What’s remarkable about this immense number and diversity of cells is that they all came from a microscopic cluster that comprises the embryo. Many of these early progenitor cells start out the same, but they receive different programming instructions along the way that enable them to replicate and differentiate to form various tissues and organs.
Signalling pathways are cellular communication systems that govern whether a cell keeps dividing or stops, where it goes and, ultimately, what it becomes. One such pathway is Wnt (pronounced “wint”) signalling, a group of signal transmission networks that play a critical role in embryonic development. Dr. Alain Dabdoub, a scientist in Biological Sciences at Sunnybrook Research Institute, is studying how Wnt signalling affects inner ear development and hearing. A new study by his team has shown for the first time that Kremen1, a poorly understood member of the Wnt network, plays a direct role in the formation of the cochlea, a spiral-shaped auditory sensory organ in the inner ear.
“We know that initially at the very early stages [of development], Wnt signalling pushes cells to proliferate,” says Dabdoub. “Then division stops and cell differentiation occurs. We’re trying to find out what promotes this high level of Wnt and also what decreases it.”
Kremen1 is a protein that sits on the cell surface where it receives and transmits signals to the cellular machinery inside. Previous studies have shown that it blocks Wnt signalling, so Dabdoub and his team decided to investigate whether Kremen1 is involved in cell differentiation in the cochlea.
The researchers found that at an early embryonic stage Kremen1 was present in the precursor cells that give rise to hair cells and supporting cells. Shortly thereafter, Kremen1 was only found in the supporting cells that surround hair cells. When the researchers forced the precursor cells to overproduce Kremen1, fewer of them went on to become hair cells and more became supporting cells. In contrast, knocking down levels of Kremen1 resulted in more hair cells. The results were published in August 2016 in the journal Scientific Reports.
The cochlea contains tens of thousands of hair cells, which have hair bundles on their surface to detect and amplify sound. In mammals, when these cells are damaged or destroyed, they are not replaced and hearing loss results. Supporting cells, on the other hand, remain abundant during an individual’s lifetime and do not appear to be affected by the insults that batter hair cells.
Dabdoub’s research seeks to understand how the cochlea and hair cells form, as well as how these sensory cells can be replenished to restore hearing. “If you think about regeneration, where are the cells that you’re going to regenerate coming from?” he says.
The survival of supporting cells makes them excellent candidates from which to regrow hair cells, but they must first replicate to ensure there are enough to maintain a stable number of supporting cells and form new hair cells. Dabdoub thinks that exploiting the proliferation-enhancing properties of Wnt signalling will help achieve this. His finding that Kremen1 plays an important role in cell fate decisions in the cochlea will be critical to future efforts to regenerate hair cells. “This is a molecule that we should keep an eye on as we work towards regeneration,” he says.
Funding for this study came from the Hearing Health Foundation’s Hearing Restoration Project, Koerner Foundation and Sunnybrook Hearing Regeneration Initiative.
Read more at http://sunnybrook.ca/research/media/item.asp?c=2&i=1458&f=new-player-identified-hair-cell-development
At first I pushed the realisation away, refusing to believe that my hearing was deteriorating.
It started eight years ago, gradually. First, watching TV became a struggle. I’d turn up the volume until, in time, my poor husband (younger than I!) was deafened.
At the theatre, I’d strain to hear — sometimes struggling to follow an unfamiliar play because I would miss parts of the dialogue.
At a party, where the background noise was loud, I just nodded and pretended to hear. I felt too embarrassed to keep saying ‘I’m sorry?’ or ‘Say again?’. Who knows what mistakes I might have made.
Back at home, whenever I missed something, my husband said I would stubbornly point out that he has a very soft voice.
Yes, it’s called denial. It was tough to acknowledge my hearing loss because, like many people. I associated the problem with being old — and I didn’t feel old at all.
I had an image of myself as a young, confident, 60-something woman with a successful career and responsibilities. I still felt (or should I say ‘feel’) glamorous, and a hearing aid didn’t fit this image.
So for years I went on making excuses and pretending I didn’t need help.
But, as a journalist, it’s my job to engage with people, and to listen. What’s more, I have to promote my books — which means speaking in public, and answering questions.
Phone calls need to be made, but I started to find it hard to hear what colleagues were saying.
But instead of acknowledging the issue, I started to keep phone conversations to a minimum and used email instead.
At last I saw the irony. As the Daily Mail’s advice columnist, I read problem letters every day.
I’m employed to give advice and encourage my readers to take action and find solutions.
Yet here I was, with a condition which affected all aspects of my life, refusing to come clean and admit to myself that I needed help.
There’s an old Latin saying which asks: ‘Who guards the guards themselves?’ In my case it should be re-framed as: ‘Who gives advice to the advice columnist?’
When she finally took a hearing test two and a half years ago, Bel discovered the hearing loss was more severe than she imagined
One day in 2011, I was standing outside our farmhouse near Bath with my husband. It was a very beautiful day. ‘Listen to that!’ he said. ‘I think it’s a buzzard’.
But I could hear nothing. No glorious wild sound of a bird of prey, calling high in the blue sky, disturbed my muffled ears.
When I confessed, my husband looked slightly shocked. It was then I realised I had to put this right.
At the time, grandchildren were expected (in fact, my first two were born in 2012) and I would want to hear their little voices, wouldn’t I?
Telling myself that wearing a hearing aid would be no different from wearing contact lenses, I at last vowed to act.
Hearing loss is sometimes joked about, but it’s a serious issue. A recent U.S. study connected impaired hearing to the onset of depression.
James Firman, president of the National Council on Aging, pointed out that ‘people with hearing loss, especially those who don’t use hearing aids, find it more difficult to communicate with other people, whether in family situations, social gatherings or at work’.
It could be a short step from having that problem to feeling very isolated.
After all, if you avoid people because you are embarrassed or shamed not to be able to hear them, they may (in time) turn away from you too.
My first action was to visit the GP and be referred to my local NHS hearing centre.
I was immensely pleased to have made the first step, but unfortunately it was to lead nowhere.
It took ages — more than a month — for an appointment to arrive in the post, and the date they gave was about six weeks ahead.
But then, the day before my appointment, the centre phoned to say they would have to postpone due to unexpected staff shortages, so could we make another one? Already, we were looking a couple of months ahead.
So I was back to square one — which was nowhere. Frustrated, but fatalistic, I let things slide once again.
Believe me, I don’t blame the NHS for the blip. Nevertheless, it’s been pointed out that NHS rationing of hearing aids is likely to be fuelling the epidemic of Alzheimer’s disease.
The warning follows research showing that the risk of dementia rockets as hearing fades.
The most deaf are five times more likely to develop the disease, and even mild hearing loss seems to have an effect.
Charities and medical staff have said that doctors must stop thinking of hearing loss as being inconsequential and start treating it – and that it’s imperative that the NHS stops rationing hearing aids.
Shockingly, it emerged last October that cash-strapped health boards have stopped offering the devices to those with mild hearing loss for the first time since the NHS was formed — advising patients to lip read instead.
Other patients have been given only one hearing aid, despite needing two. Overall, just one third of the six million Britons who could benefit from hearing aids have them.
My decision to take care of myself was sensible — and serendipity intervened. I was driving through Bath when I saw a modest sign on a shop. It said ‘Hidden Hearing’ — and I thought ruefully, ‘Yes, my poor old hearing is pretty hidden!’
The next day I saw an advertisement in a magazine for the same High Street chain of hearing centres, so rang and made an appointment within the week. Just like that.
This was two and a half years ago — a very long time after I first started to turn up the TV volume.
The test revealed that my hearing loss was more severe than I’d imagined, which left me shocked.
I have since learned that because hearing loss is so gradual, a person with symptoms often doesn’t realise the severity and doesn’t realise what sounds they are missing.
My audiologist spent time taking me through the different options available and I eventually settled on a pair of Orticon Intiga.
At first I rather reeled at the cost — which was £4,000.
On the other hand, I was buying a pair of exquisitely tiny computers that would tuck behind my ears, coloured to match my hair, with the part that went inside my ears pretty well invisible.
You can’t put a price on your senses. Hearing is fundamental to living, so I told myself it was a purchase worth making, especially if I considered it in terms of so much per day for at least six years.
At first I forgot to use them. I suppose I was still resisting the idea, since the thought of putting something inside your ear isn’t natural.
In fact, I’ve worn contact lenses since I was 20 and it’s actually infinitely easier to get used to a hearing aid.
Initially, though, I found the batteries fiddly and worried I was going to break the delicate little appliances.
However with some perseverance I managed to adapt and now the benefits are incredible. No more muffled living.
I vividly remember walking into my garden and hearing bird song for the first time. It was wonderful.
I now wear the hearing aids every day, and I tell people about them all the time because it’s so important to be open and counter any stigma.
I was surprised to find male acquaintances display vanity, telling me it was easier for me because the hearing aids couldn’t be seen whereas with short hair….
My advice? Grow slightly longer hair around the ears if it bothers you that much but honestly, does it really matter?
We all need to look after ourselves and be honest about what we need to do to improve our quality of life.
I haven’t just made my hearing better, I’ve improved my social life (since parties are less of a strain), family and working life.
Who wouldn’t want to hear a grandchild’s sweet little mumbling? Or every note of a favourite song?
A life without sound can be lonely. Hearing loss shouldn’t be looked at as an age-related condition because (as my hearing specialist told me) young people can have the problem too.
Even though I’m entirely satisfied with the hearing aids I invested in nearly three years ago, at the moment I’m just trialling an upgrade, the Oticon Opn, which is even more state of the art.
For example, the other night in the theatre I used a small hand control to improve the clarity of the actors.
What a revelation it was — first, to hear the sound change and second to have the power to control the technology.
I’d urge anyone who is worried about their hearing to seek help straight away. Whether you take the NHS path or seek out a High Street provider is a choice; what matters is to take action.
The longer you wait the more your hearing deteriorates and the harder it is adapt to technology.
And just think of all the lovely conversation and glorious birdsong you might be missing.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-3786091/I-vain-wear-hearing-aids-desperately-needed-hearing-deteriorated-Mail-s-advice-columnist-felt-cut-world.html
Older workers with hearing problems face a double whammy: They’re dealing with the stigma not only of hearing loss but also of age. If they ask for accommodations on the job for hearing loss, they fear attention will be drawn to their age as well.
The Americans with Disabilities Act protects the rights of workers to ask for accommodations at work to help them hear more easily. However, research out of Oregon State University has found that older workers are less likely to feel there’s support for them to ask for that kind of help, because of worries they’ll be perceived as old by coworkers and managers.
Other research has shown that people with disabilities refrain from requesting accommodations if they think coworkers would find the request “normatively inappropriate” — meaning not in keeping with the office culture. For instance, an office environment with a focus on maximising profits like that in The Big Short or The Social Network is perceived as being much less likely to understand and tolerate a disability than would a nonprofit that prides itself on a more inclusive culture.
Research by David C. Baldridge and Michele L. Swift of Oregon State University’s College of Business, published in the journal Human Resources Management, studied the effect of age on such requests. Workers’ fear of seeming old, they found, may trump their fear of seeming to have a disability. Their findings were based on an email survey of 242 workers ages 18 to 69. Most had moderate to severe hearing impairment.
Age itself has a negative stereotype in many workplaces, including the perception of “lower productivity, resistance to change, reduced ability to learn, and greater cost,” the authors wrote. “These stereotypes are often associated with fewer promotions, less training, lower performance ratings, and lower retention.”
But add disability to age and the stereotypes multiply. The older the person with a disability, the more likely they are to fear that others will attribute the request not to the disability, but to their age.
“Simply put,” the authors wrote, “people with disabilities appear to face a straightforward yet troubling question, ‘If I ask for a needed accommodation, will I be better or worse off?’ ”
Read more on this article at http://www.aarp.org/health/conditions-treatments/info-2016/hearing-loss-age-discrimination-work-kb.html
What can you do?
Hearing loss is a gradual and normal part of the ageing process. However, excessive noise is still the primary cause. Permanent hearing loss can occur almost instantly with unprotected exposure to certain sounds.
To protect yourself from noise:
- If the sound level at work exceeds 85dB, reduce the noise level or wear hearing protection.
- Lower the volume of your television, stereo and iPod. Take special care if you use headphones or earbuds.
- Be careful not to turn up your car stereo volume too loudly to compensate for noise from the engine or the wind.
- Wear custom noise filters or solid earplugs if you go to rock concerts or nightclubs, and don’t stand near loud speakers.
- Wear noise-cancelling headphones or solid earplugs if you use noisy equipment such as drills, lawnmowers, etc.
To avoid damage from foreign objects:
- Don’t use cotton swabs to clean your ears. Doing so may push wax down onto your eardrum and can increase the production of wax and/or damage the eardrum.
- Avoid washing with unclean water to prevent ear infections.
What are decibels?
Decibels (dB) measure the intensity of sound: from 0dB, which is the faintest sound the human ear can detect, to the noise of a rocket during launch, which can exceed 180dB.
Experts typically consider exposure to more than 85dB to be dangerous, which means things like motorcycles, headphones and lawnmowers have potential to lead to permanent hearing loss.
Myths about hearing loss are plentiful! Medical research has made living with health conditions easier, and recovering from them much more common. Yet, conditions regarding our senses, and particularly our hearing, still seem surrounded by myths. These myths hold back diagnosis and treatment, especially when a condition is thought to be inevitable or that nothing can be done.
“Myths can’t be translated as they did in their ancient soil. We can only find our own meaning in our own time,” said Margaret Atwood. How true this is! Because myths are normally based in fact. But old fact. Rooted in the past without change that comes when new information is learned.
According to “Healthy Hearing,” there are five myths people associate with hearing loss. They are:
- Hearing loss only impacts the elderly.
- Primary care doctors will diagnosis hearing loss.
- If hearing loss is only in one ear, then it’s not really hearing loss.
- Hearing aids will restore hearing to what it was before.
- There’s nothing that really can be done about hearing loss.
The best way to debunk a myth is with accurate information, so we look at these myths and provide what is known about them:
In fact, 5 out of every 1,000 babies born each year are born with hearing deficits. And, because of noise induced hearing loss, 16% of teens experience hearing loss. Surprisingly, to most, over 50% of people with hearing loss are under the age of 65. Hearing loss is not your grandparents’ concern – it’s everyone’s.
The Doctor’s Visit
Going to the doctor for that annual office visit, or even a sick visit might leave one with the false belief that any hearing loss will be picked up. Usually, that visit will start with the doctor looking into the patient’s ears. But hearing loss can’t be diagnosed, in most cases, by sight, even with an otoscope. Often, the doctor may not even question the patient about changes in hearing. Only 16% of physicians routinely screen for hearing loss, according to the Centre for Hearing and Communication. So, if patients are experiencing ringing in the ears, or a loss in hearing, they should be sure to mention this to their physician so further audiology tests can be ordered. A hearing care practitioner or audiologist has special equipment and testing methods that go beyond a cursory examination. The diagnosis and treatment of hearing loss is a medical specialty and a referral to a specialist is appropriate to ask for.
Losing the sense of hearing in one ear is not to be ignored. And no, the ears won’t “balance out.” Balance can be affected; vertigo can set in; people are more likely to fall or have other non-hearing complications. If hearing goes uncorrected (such as clearing out an acute buildup of wax) the ear – or the brain – can actually forget how to hear certain sounds. So, regular hearing tests and getting attention for any suspected hearing loss – in one or both ears – is mandatory to have hearing loss restored, if possible. If a hearing aid is needed, more than likely there will be two, and they will work together to amplify and direct sound.
Another myth is that hearing aids won’t help. According to the National Institute of Deafness and Other Disorders (NIDCD), “Hearing aids are primarily useful in improving the hearing and speech comprehension of people who have hearing loss that results from damage to the small sensory cells in the inner ear, called hair cells.”
As technology improves, hearing aids are making a dramatic difference in restoring this sense that effects so many parts of the body and quality of life. It is true that while most times hearing aids can increase hearing dramatically, they will not return hearing to its once perfect state.
Nothing Can Be Done
While hearing aids won’t restore, in most cases, perfect hearing, there is so much that can be done. The person experiencing hearing loss may not even need a hearing aid – it could be a medication adjustment, a medical condition, ear wax removal, or a structural situation that can be corrected with surgery.
Here are a few other other myths.
Hearing aids are grossly expensive. Not true – though the newer the technology and the smaller the hearing aid the more likely the price will be higher.
Shouting at someone who can’t hear well will help them hear you – not true. That often worsens the situation with sound become garbled and muffled. Louder is not necessarily clearer.
Hearing aids will make sounds too loud. Again, not true – while sounds might seem amplified due to long periods of not hearing well – soon you will adjust to hearing normally again.
And, finally, if someone has a hearing impairment, they’d certainly know about it. The fact is hearing loss is subtle and gradual, in most cases. Our bodies adapt to a new normal and only professional screening can determine if hearing loss is happening.
Perhaps the biggest misnomer is that “mild” hearing loss has a “mild” impact on the person. According to AudiologyOnline.com, “Mild hearing losses do not have mild consequences. A consequence of mild hearing loss is reduced audibility resulting in reduced speech intelligibility in general, but especially in noise and over distance. Another consequence is increased listening fatigue with the risk of affecting social life.”