What? Hearing Loss? Steps if it’s You or a Loved One

Although hearing loss is something that we as a society acknowledge as existing, many people fail to accept that it may be something that affects their own daily life. Whether hearing loss enters your life through your own ears or through close friends and family, it’s important to know how to handle hearing loss when it becomes more than just someone else’s health concerns.

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The first step to properly approaching hearing loss is to know the signs. Some of the ways that you can tell if you or someone close to you is experiencing hearing loss it to pay attention to how that person interacts with others. Quirks like turning up the radio louder than usual, frequently asking people to repeat themselves, and not responding to soft sounds can be signs that a person’s hearing is impaired. Staying alert to signs such as these can greatly impact a patient’s recovery. Another way that you can stay on top of hearing loss and take action as early as possible is to not take light of factors such as buzzing noises and humming. A symptom of hearing loss called tinnitus, where the subject hears noises that aren’t actually occurring, can often be overlooked and brushed off, despite affecting around a fourth of the population. Instead of ignoring the signs, you should pay close attention and not hesitate to approach the subject of hearing loss if you notice anything amiss.

Once you have found reason to believe that hearing loss is present, you need to know what to do next. There are two main causes of hearing loss, prebycusis and noise-induced trauma. In order to find out what type of hearing loss is affecting you or a loved one, you must seek help from a hearing professional. From there, you can discuss treatment and figure out a plan of action. Things like formal audiology tests and a well-informed professional can quickly solve many issues with a patient’s hearing through lifestyle changes. Some types of hearing damage can be minimized, or even eliminated, through the guidance of a professional. In cases such as these, putting off treatment will only prolong the time until the patient’s relief.

Prebycusis, which is a naturally occurring deterioration of hearing that comes with old age and environmental factors, cannot be truly prevented. It can be spotted by the way it initially affects the ability to perceive sounds with a higher frequency. Noise-induced trauma, on the other hand, is something that can often be stopped before it even occurs. By wearing proper ear protection while around high levels of noise, such as construction sites or shooting ranges, you are able to protect your hearing from a potentially damaging amount of noise. Other preventive measures, such as limiting the amount of time spent listening to earbuds and making sure not to listen to media too loudly, can help to stop the deterioration of your hearing. Although it isn’t something that many people take seriously, small things such as listening to music through earbuds can seriously damage your hearing without proper regulation and attention.

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Research has found that because of a correlation in certain lifestyle choices, such as concerts and even lawn mowing, there has been a significant increase in the number of patients who experience noise-induced hearing loss. As a result of improper hearing loss awareness and ear protection, it’s become more likely than ever that you or someone you know might experience hearing loss. Side effects such as isolation and declining mental health are common in people with hearing loss, and require support and attention to help prevent.  Although hearing aids are often a helpful solution to hearing loss and can easily prevent isolation in patients, they are not always an option. For patients whose hearing loss is more profound, hearing aids can do little to help. Instead, tools such as sign language and reading lips become the new standard for communication for someone with hearing loss. In cases such as these, it’s important that the patient’s family members and friends learn what’s necessary in order to continue the interaction. Things that you may not have thought about before, like making sure your lips are visible to the person with hearing loss while you’re talking or remembering to turn on captions while watching a movie, will have to be something that you take care to remember.

When it comes to hearing loss, the most important thing to do is to continue to show support. If you yourself end up with hearing loss, make sure to address the problem quickly and reach out for support when you need it.

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