Talking about Hearing Loss: Why Your Disclosure Method Matters

Are you grappling with untreated hearing loss? You might find it difficult to follow conversations, or get lost in group conversations. 

If this sounds like you, you might be anxious about revealing your hearing loss, and wondering if others have already noticed. If you’re wondering if you should reveal your hearing loss, the answer is undoubted, yes, but let’s look at what is holding you back from doing so. 

 

The stigma of hearing loss

Unfortunately, there is still a lot of shame surrounding hearing loss in our culture today. Those who find it hardest to admit their hearing loss to others may be doing so because the failure of our hearing represents a break – suddenly the individual fears they are becoming more dependent on others, after having lived a life of independence. Due to these complex and unnerving thoughts, many people choose to ignore the problem and conceal that they have trouble hearing.

Similarly, culture also correlates hearing loss with getting older. Thus, many may feel that using hearing aids to enhance their hearing makes them appear “old.” Similarly, people often believe treating their hearing loss with hearing aids makes them look less attractive.

So, how can we banish the hearing loss stigma once and for all? It won’t be easy, but we can start by promoting an atmosphere of empathy and inclusiveness for those with hearing loss by encouraging the general public to be more accepting. 

Another thing we can do is to encourage those who have untreated hearing loss to be more open. This has a more significant effect on hearing loss outcomes than you would think – that’s according to a 2015 study conducted by Massachusetts Eye and Ear researchers, most people use one of three disclosure methods to communicate about their hearing loss. 

Here are the three methods, and the effects they have on the individual dealing with hearing loss. 

 

Method #1: Non-disclosure

Non-disclosure refers to the method of not disclosing a hearing loss. Often, the condition is disguised by placing the responsibility for communication on the other person.

For example: “I can’t hear what you’re saying. Please speak up. “This approach keeps the condition hidden from others while helping the individual postpone treatment of their hearing loss further.

 

Method #2: Basic Disclosure

Basic disclosure is a method used by those reports that they have hearing loss and may offer explanations about their condition. For example, a person may say, “I served in Afghanistan and came back with hearing loss.”

While this method is better than a non-disclosure, it doesn’t offer a solution for facilitating better communication. 

 

Method #3: Multipurpose disclosure

Multipurpose disclosure is used to identify those who reveal their hearing loss and explain the best way to improve communication flow. 

For example, a person may say: “it’s tough to hear anything here with this noise. Can we talk outside?”.

 

For a better experience with hearing loss, use the multipurpose approach.

The researchers were under no illusions about which method yielded the best results for the person with hearing loss. 

“We think patients should be encouraged to realize that these approaches, particularly the multipurpose disclosure approach, are accessible to them,” According to the lead author Dr. Stankovic. “Hearing loss is an invisible disability; however, it may improve communication by asking people to slow down or face someone with hearing loss while speaking.”

The researchers suggest educating people with hearing loss about using the multipurpose disclosure with those they interact with regularly.

 

Don’t forget your employer

About 60 percent of working Americans have some hearing loss. It’s crucial to disclose your hearing loss to your employer because it may help you get accommodations on the job, which will keep you performing. This is because employers are required by law to provide reasonable accommodations for workers with hearing loss.

Maintaining your performance with hearing loss at work may require some subtle adjustments, such as a new phone headset, maybe a change in your schedule or shift in duties to work in a quieter environment, or subtly shifting your desk to relieve a noise problem. 

There are also technological advancements that will allow you to keep being a valuable team member. Don’t forget you can also ask for vital information to be sent in an email!

 

Treating Hearing Loss

Once you have used the multipurpose disclosure method to those you interact with regularly, it’s time to get a hearing aid if you haven’t already done so. This will help improve your ability to hear in all situations. 

To make an appointment for a hearing test and consultation, please take the opportunity to contact our team today. 

All About Tinnitus

Have you ever heard a ringing in your ears after attending a noisy concert? That sound is what we call tinnitus. 

Tinnitus is often defined as a ringing sound in the ears, but it is possible to find other types. For example, it can seem to come from one ear, both ears or in the head. It may sound like a variety of different sounds, not just ringing. 

That noise in quiet times is something that nobody else can detect. Tinnitus can last for just one night and then disappear, but it may never completely go away for some. It may happen at any age, but it is more common for people over the age of 65 and may develop suddenly or progress slowly over time.

 

What kinds of tinnitus exist?

Two principal types of tinnitus exist. 

The first, subjective tinnitus, is a sound that can only be heard by the individual it experiences. It tends to be caused by a problem, also known as the auditory nervous system, along the pathway between the ear and brain. 

The second type, objective tinnitus, is quite rare. This form is triggered by a sound inside the body that a doctor with the right equipment can hear. 

Let’s take a moment to consider the causes and treatments available for tinnitus.

 

Causes of tinnitus

Most tinnitus occurs when the inner ear’s tiny hair-like cells are damaged. When these hair cells function as intended, they send electrical impulses to the brain, which differ depending on the type of sound they have detected. With a remarkable degree of precision, these fragile cells can detect subtle differences in tone. However, if bent or split, these hair-like cells can sometimes send along an electrical disturbance that registers as sound. 

There are many reasons why these cells could be bent or broken. Age-related hearing loss and loud noise exposure are the most common causes of this type of damage leading to tinnitus. 

Although your mind may immediately go to the loud sounds associated with an explosion, car crash, or industrial machines, you may be surprised at some of the other tinnitus-causing sounds. The volume of noise from your earbuds or headphones can be enough to cause that hearing damage. Even though exposure to loud noise from a concert, sporting event, or dance club typically only causes acute ringing in the ears, permanent damage may also occur. 

As well as the common causes of tinnitus, more rare causes of tinnitus can result from an earwax buildup, Meniere ‘s disease, TMJ, injuries, muscle spasms, and even changes in bone structure.

 

Preventing tinnitus

As mentioned, tinnitus often comes from exposure to loud sounds. That’s why it is crucial to wear hearing protection whenever exposed to loud noises to avoid this type of tinnitus. 

Those whose workplaces expose them to noise should consult their management about what can be done to limit exposure, but they should also be sure to wear the hearing protection that is provided and required by law. 

Another crucial preventive measure is to limit headphone use and volume, including earbuds. Through using these devices loud volumes, even very young people can damage their ears, so make sure they keep the time with headphones to a limited time each day.

 

Treatments for tinnitus

At the moment, there is no way to cure tinnitus medically. But many treatment options can make the noises less noticeable.

Sound Therapy: Many people find noise machines very calming, particularly when getting to sleep. There are even different smartphone apps or online videos that play specific “tinnitus masking music,” making tinnitus entirely unnoticeable.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy ( CBT): Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a kind of talk therapy that is very useful to help people cope better with their tinnitus. It equips patients with mental tools to handle the ringing in their ears and prevent it from interfering with their everyday lives.

Hearing aids for tinnitus: Many hearing aids increase the user’s overall ‘sound level’ experience, which could help them ignore their tinnitus sounds better. Modern hearing aids may help to alleviate tinnitus by producing a sound that hides the tinnitus in question.

Although hearing aids are usually not recommended in cases involving tinnitus with no hearing loss, considering that the two conditions are often related, it is advisable to check your hearing if you experience tinnitus. The test is painless and straightforward, and it is best to learn early on that you have a degree of hearing loss, so you can make lifestyle changes and schedule routine additional hearing tests to keep track of your hearing.

If you have a life-altering degree of hearing loss, wearing hearing aids should begin as soon as possible. The adverse effects of untreated hearing loss are numerous and profound. Schedule an appointment with us today to set up a hearing test.

Veterans and Hearing Loss

Veterans – particularly those who served in war zones – have levels of hearing loss considerably higher than the general population. Seeing that 20 percent of the U.S. population has some degree of hearing loss, veteran rates are disturbingly high. 

Hearing loss and tinnitus are among the most extensive injuries among soldiers who have served overseas. A Department of Veterans Affairs official overview, 2017 Benefits Survey, confirms this. Sadly, due to the highly noisy environments and equipment that troops encounter and operate regularly, such numbers are still growing.

 

The importance of ear protection

In the military, there is so much hearing loss because, in general, the armed forces feature some of the noisiest working environments of all occupations. 

Many sailors work below decks in high-noise environments, packed with continuous engine noises and metal-on-metal noise. 

Similarly, soldiers spend much of their day in or around heavy vehicles like tanks or transportation carriers in the army or marines. Add to this the sporadic sounds of gunshots and explosions, and you have a recipe for tinnitus and hearing loss. 

With this in mind, it’s no wonder that the military works to produce standard-issue protective devices for workers. 

 

Why ear protection today is better than you think

There is a common misconception among some service members that ear protection can impair communications during combat missions and impede efficient performance on the battlefield. That may have been true in the past, but technical developments have allowed hearing safety and communications to exist side-by-side. 

Standard earplugs can indeed interfere with communication requirements, effectively blocking too much noise. However, the latest technology earplugs use a filter that enables you to hear soft sounds still but eliminate high-frequency or impulse noise, such as noise from a gunshot or an explosion.

In this way, current service members do get the best of both worlds. 

 

Beware of low-quality hearing protection.

However, it is possible that an ineffective product or defective design could slip through the quality control process when buying safety equipment in bulk. In some instances, manufacturers may be marketing a commodity that is not working correctly.

There have been a few recent controversies surrounding hearing protection companies. For example, a case came to court in 2016, claiming that a hearing protection product sold to the military didn’t provide adequate hearing protection to troops using earplugs. 

These earplugs were too small to fit into the ear correctly. That meant that the personnel using the earplugs believed they were doing their hearing the right thing, but they were wearing inadequate protection. This false sense of security undermined their hearing safety and led to significant damage to the fragile cells in their inner ears.

As more veterans realize the error of the hearing protection company in question, they ‘re coming forward and filing complaints against the government. 

An army Sgt. from Texas, Scott Rowe, is demanding damages and restitution on Iraq’s front lines for the hearing loss he suffered. After relying on government-issued hearing protection, he lives with hearing loss and tinnitus, and he also struggles with vertigo and balance problems. 

 

It’s essential to check your hearing.

There are a host of reasons why reintegrating into civilian society can be difficult for a military veteran, but the hearing loss doesn’t have to be one of them. 

After the 3M issue, troops are considerably better shielded from duty noise. However, hearing loss is likely to remain a prevalent affliction among veterans so long as the armed conflict continues to involve gunshots, bombs, and heavy machinery. 

Prevention is the best medicine, but those suspecting hearing loss should get a hearing test and see what remedies are available for their particular situation. For example, many modern hearing aids have unique features that help relieve tinnitus and help improve hearing in noisy situations. 

Members of the service and members of the non-service will undergo daily hearing tests. Sometimes we have the nagging feeling our hearing is deteriorating, but we do nothing. Today’s hearing aids are discreet and technologically advanced, so there is no reason to delay treatment. To learn more and book a hearing test, contact us today.

Occupational Hearing Hazards

It’s essential to realize when a loud sound is too loud and learn how to protect yourself from irreversible hearing loss. This is particularly important when it comes to working. 

Unfortunately, occupational hearing loss is widespread, despite OSHA’s safety standards for hearing protection for workers. Loud working environments practically guarantee that you will be exposed to sound levels daily, leaving a permanent mark if you are not vigilant.

Here are a few things to consider when it comes to noise and your working environment.

Noise-induced hearing loss

The ear is still not equipped to tolerate the noises of modern industrialization, such as combustion engines, pneumatic pumps, and repetitive loud machine noise.

While age-related hearing loss is often due to a lifetime of wear and tear on your auditory system, noise-induced hearing loss (also known as NIHL) is almost entirely preventable.

The effects of noise are often underestimated as the damage progressively occurs. As a result, people traditionally haven’t recognized the impact on their daily lives until they are frustrated with a persistent communication issue or experience ringing in their ears.

Our ears have their limits.

Deafening sounds can damage the inner ear, reducing hearing ability in specific ranges. Sounds louder than 80 decibels ( dB) may cause hearing loss. When sounds above that level persist for even a short period, you can suffer damage.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has mandated that a worker only have an average exposure of 90 dB during an 8-hour workday. Additionally, a 5 dB increase over 90 dB must last for a shorter amount of time. For example, 95 dB of sound can be maintained for only 4 hours, and 100 dB can be tolerated for only 2 hours. These employers are also required to provide regular hearing tests, sound surveillance, protection, and training to workers.

What are some of the loudest jobs?

Many jobs can be dangerous to the health of our hearing, and some may even surprise you. Below are a few of the occupations most damaging to your ears.

  • Teacher at nursery school-85 dB: Schools are noisy environments, and studies have measured noise levels to fall between 40 and 105 dB during an average school day. 
  • Manufacturing/construction – 90 dB: A bulldozer that is idling at 85 dB is loud enough to cause permanent damage after just one working day. The machinery in warehouses manufacturing averages at 90 dB; combined with the open floor plan and concrete floor and structure, long hours of work may result in hearing loss.
  • Bartender – 98dB: According to a new Irish study, nightclub bartenders’ average daily noise exposure was 92 decibels, which could increase to 98dB as the night progresses. Worryingly, none of the clubs interviewed gave hearing tests to their employees or educated their workers about noise exposure risks.
  • Agricultural worker – 107-112 dB: Farmers are regularly exposed to machine sounds, and studies have shown that 25 percent of male farmers experience hearing loss at age 30.

How to protect your ears

Prevention is the best course of action where NIHL is concerned. There are steps you can take to shield yourself from dangerous noises and to avoid permanent hearing damage:

Be aware of what noise can cause harm. Motorcycles, firearms, lawnmowers, chainsaws, powerboats, and personal listening devices can easily exceed the threshold of safe listening. As an easy rule to live by, if you have to yell to be heard by someone away from an arm’s length, the noise is likely within this range.

Take steps to reduce noise at the source. Ensuring that all equipment is maintained correctly, replacing a muffler, or placing a machine inside an enclosure can help shield your ears from harmful noise. 

Use ear protection. These may be useful tools for avoiding long-term hearing damage if used correctly. Be aware of your right to high-quality ear protection in the workplace, primarily if you work in the construction or manufacturing sector of noisy jobs.

Keep an eye on the volume of your listening devices, mainly when using headphones with earbuds.  Remember to take breaks from the noise and allow your ears the chance to rest. Noise-canceling headphones are an excellent option to moderate your listening level.

If you’re concerned that noise in your workplace is having a detrimental effect on your hearing, we are here to help. We can give you a detailed picture of your current hearing health, guide you to the best treatment when hearing loss is detected, and help you find the best hearing protection to keep your ears safe. Contact us today to set up an appointment.