There are many ways to seek help and manage hearing loss to stop it from getting worse.
We have written about how our sense can be affected at any age, especially as we get older. However, hearing loss can happen at any age. This can happen for a variety of reasons including genetics, consistent exposure to loud noises at work, ear infections, head injuries and exposure to certain chemicals or medications like aspirin, some antibiotics and some cancer drugs.
How do you know if you are experiencing hearing loss?
Sometimes the signs of hearing loss can be obvious – you may not hear what people are saying to you. Other signs that you may be suffering from hearing loss are that you:
• Difficulty in understanding certain words
• Trouble hearing in loud and noisy places
• Have trouble following conversations
• Give answers that don’t make sense in the context of the question or conversation
• Have trouble understanding people unless they are facing you
• You often ask people to repeat themselves
• Hear sounds as muffled like people are mumbling
• Have the TV or radio up louder than normal
• Miss your phone or doorbell ringing
• Have constant buzzing or ringing in your ears
• Loud noises cause you more discomfort than before
• Withdraw from conversations or social situations
Some people also get tinnitus, which can range from mild to severe. Many of us know this as ringing in the ears, but because the condition is variable in people, it can actually affect people in different ways. You may experience changing and intertwining sounds like hissing, roaring, crickets, screeching, pulsing, ocean waves, dial tones, whooshing or even music.
If you believe you are experiencing any of these signs of hearing loss, it is best to visit your GP first, who may refer you to a qualified Audiologist. The Audiologist can test your hearing in different ranges, and provide equipment to manage the symptoms or refer you to an ENT for further examination.
Can you test your own hearing?
Yes! There is an online test on the “Know Your Noise” website. This is funded by the Australian Government Department of Health, and can help you work out whether your hearing might be a problem, before you seek a diagnosis from a qualified specialist. However, just remember that online hearing tests are no replacement for specialised medical advice.
What is the Treatment?
In some cases, people can’t have their hearing loss reversed, but there are treatments available to help you manage your hearing loss and hear better including:
• hearing aids
• cochlear implants
How to talk to a loved one who has hearing loss
- Either speak face to face or if they have a good ear, speak into the good ear
- Talk clearly at a normal speed
- Don’t yell or shout. You will sound angry, even if this is not your intention
- Don’t cover your mouth, because people with hearing loss often rely on lip reading to help understand what you are saying
- Use facial expression and gestures to communicate
- Do not talk about the person who has hearing loss, but rather talk to them
- If you do need to share private information with a third party, invite them outside the room to talk
- Sometimes lowering your pitch when speaking will help
- Reduce background noise like the television or radio, before starting a conversation
- Ask your loved one to repeat back what you have said. Even if they nod in agreement, this doesn’t necessarily mean that they understood what you said
- Remain calm while figuring out the best ways to communicate
For more information on how to adapt to vision loss for your loved one, call 07 3314 2575 and stay tuned in the coming weeks for more blogs about each of these senses.