June is Men’s Health Awareness Month and a great time to shed light on factors that can lead to hearing loss and signs that hearing aids are needed.
Job occupation can be a significant reason for hearing loss. Occupations such as firefighters, police officers, construction workers, oil field workers, music performers and landscaping workers can all lead to exposure to sounds at harmful levels.
Sound is measured in decibels (dB). A decibel is a degree of loudness or is a unit used to measure how powerful or loud a sound or signal is using a logarithmic formula. Certain tools or equipment can emit decibels at 85 or higher causing permanent hearing damage. Examples of harmful sounds workers may experience include:
· Lawnmower - 90 dB
· Belt sander - 93 dB
· Gunfire - 140 - 165 dB
· Fire sirens - 65 - 120 dB
· Bulldozer - 105 dB
· Chainsaw - 110 dB
· Jackhammer - 120 dB
If you are unable to remove yourself from the situation, then hearing protection is key to prevent hearing loss. However, if hearing protection is not used consistently or correctly exposure can still lead to damage.
Signs you may need hearing aids:
· You hear but do not understand others when they are speaking.
· You think everyone is mumbling or talking too low.
· You often ask for repetition.
· Friends and family tell you that you are not hearing them.
· You do not participate in a conversation, because you are not following along.
· You stay at home rather than enjoying group outings.
· You feel like you need to see the person speaking in order to hear them or you are reading lips.
· You are tired after having a conversation or after a day at work or school.
· You have a hard time hearing the phone.
· You watch the television at a very loud volume.
· You have difficulty hearing background noise.
· You hear ringing, buzzing or humming sounds in your ears.
There are many signs that you may need hearing aids. If any of the above statements are something you experience, it may be time to schedule a hearing test to see if hearing aids can help. Many times others will notice that you have difficulty hearing before you do. Hearing loss often occurs gradually, so you may be unaware of just how much you are missing.
When you listen to speech with a hearing loss, your brain is working hard to “fill in the gaps” because you are missing important speech information. This is why you may find yourself reading lips or searching for context clues in conversation. The longer you go with hearing loss, the more difficult it is for your brain to fill in those gaps. Individuals with long-term hearing loss have increased difficulty understanding, even when speech is loud enough. Because your brain is working harder to understand, you may be more fatigued after long conversation or a day at work.
Therefore, it is important to start wearing hearing aids as soon as hearing loss is identified. Keeping your brain stimulated with sound is imperative and may help prevent increased cognitive decline. Additionally, tinnitus (ringing, buzzing, humming or other sounds that you hear without an external source) can be a sign of hearing loss. Tinnitus may be improved by the use of hearing aids due to the additional sound stimulation to your brain.
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms above, call 903-747-4098 to schedule an appointment.
Information provided by Danielle Dupuis, AuD, CCC-A. Dr. Dupuis is located at the UT Health East Texas ENT Center in Tyler and is accepting new patients. For more information, visit uthealthtylerhospital.com/services/ear-nose-and-throat.