Hearing Loss

Are you concerned about hearing loss? Think your hearing isn’t as good as it used to be? You’re not sure what to do about it?

Reduced hearing can happen slowly, and you may not notice it until one day someone points out how loud the TV is, or you realize that you’re in a restaurant for dinner with 7 other people, and you can’t decipher all the conversations going on around you.

Is this something you should worry about? Will it get worse? Will it go away on its own?

First answer these few questions for yourself:

Do you:

  • Speak louder than necessary in a conversation and ask others to repeat what they said?

  • Say the wrong thing because you didn’t understand what someone else said, or you think that people are always mumbling?

  • Find it easier to understand people when you are looking at them, especially if it’s noisy or if there is a number of conversations going at the same time?

  • Have trouble hearing someone behind you or in another room, or have trouble hearing on the telephone?

  • Turn the television or radio up louder than usual?

  • You’re not as social as you used to be, or you appear uninterested in conversations around you?

  • You cannot hear the doorbell or the telephone?

  • You turn one ear toward the person speaking?

  • You have ringing, buzzing, roaring or hissing sounds in one or both ear?

Reasons for Hearing Loss

Some of the reasons for experiencing this loss are not serious, and they are easily remedied. Others require a doctor’s care. (See Otitis Media).

The simplest reason is a buildup of excess ear wax. If you have this problem, you can either see your doctor who can remove the wax for you, or you can do ear candling, which often works just as well.

Another simple reason for hearing loss is having a foreign body in your ear. What kind of foreign body? Well, if it’s a child with a foreign body, it could be anything! (Click here for a humourous, true story of a “foreign body” that you really don’t want to have in your ear!) Removal of whatever is in your ear may require a doctor’s expertise.

Other Causes to be Aware Of

Getting Older – with the wear and tear of years - yes, you’d probably rather ignore this one and hope it doesn’t happen to you – but allow me a small digression – it is a privilege to get older. My husband once took a trip to Africa and when he came back, he said that there were very few people with grey hair there. The reason is – most people in the area he was visiting didn’t live long enough to have grey hair. If you are getting older and not enjoying it very much, I recommend visiting Dr. Andrew Weil’s site on Aging Gracefully.

Hearing loss can develop over a very long time, perhaps 25 – 30 years. Because it happens so gradually, you may be the last to realize that you have a problem, you adapt by having the TV or radio louder, or you find it easier to hear another person when you can see his or face clearly. The reason for this is because over time, you have developed some ability to lip read. If you are experiencing some hearing loss, you should see your doctor. There’s always the possibility that it's not age-related at all, but something else that might possibly be corrected.

“An Ounce of Prevention is Worth
a Pound of Cure”

Noise-Induced Hearing Loss
Some hearing loss may be – well – there’s really no other way to say it – because of things you are doing. Yes, you might be the cause of your potential hearing loss. But that’s actually good news! Because once you know what the problem is, you can fix it. And that’s good!

The official name for this type of hearing loss is “Noise-Induced Hearing Loss” (NIHL).

Do you listen to music a lot through your headphones? The real question is – when you listen to music through headphones, can the person sitting next to you sing along? Then it’s too loud and it’s damaging your hearing.

Do you spend time in video arcades? Bars or clubs? Concerts? Do you have to shout to be heard by the person across the table or in the next seat? Then it’s too loud and it’s damaging your hearing.

Can the music in your car be heard by everyone in town as you drive through? Then it’s damaging your hearing. I live on a main street with a convenience store across the road and down a bit. I have been woken up at night through my closed windows from the “thump thump thump” of the woofer in someone’s car at the convenience store. The driver of that car is having his hearing damaged.

Even while doing fun things – like snowmobiling, riding motorcycles and going to monster truck rallies – you need to protect your hearing.

Then there’s the one single loud noise – like a firecracker exploding close to your ear. Or a gun shot. If this happens to you, and after you have pain in your ear, or a ringing or buzzing, or can’t understand what is being said around you, make sure you stay in a quiet place for the next 24 hours to let your hearing recover. If it doesn’t recover fully within that time period, you should see your doctor.

How about your work place? Are you using power tools, or someone else is using power tools around you? Or are you or someone else using power tools at home? Are you the one running the lawnmower all summer? Do you work in a factory with a lot of loud machinery?

How about the kid’s toys? Some of them get pretty loud – and the little kids are a lot closer to the toys than you are – damage!

The important thing is to not underestimate the damage that can be done to your hearing. My son has an “I Am Man I Can Take Pain” attitude. Is it really worth it? Do yourself a favour, turn it down, remove yourself, wear ear plugs, whatever you need to do to protect your hearing, do it! Noise has more of an effect on you than you might realize.

There are other cause of hearing loss as well, all of which would need your doctor’s attention. Some medications can cause hearing loss. You could have an infection in your middle ear. There are conditions such as Tinnitus and Meniere’s. Even smoking can increase your chance of hearing loss. If you are experiencing new hearing loss, please see your doctor.

Exposure to loud noise over and over is the biggest reason for losing your hearing. It happens gradually, and you may not notice it until it’s serious, so take steps now to protect your hearing.

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