Hearing Loss FAQs
- Page 1
Should my relative with hearing loss stop driving?
While many people worry about the safety of their loved ones with hearing conditions, many people can continue to drive safely despite their hearing loss. Studies suggest that distractions and lack of experience are far more dangerous than an inability to hear—that is, as long as the hearing-impaired driver takes proper precautions.
Tips for Hearing-Impaired Drivers
Hearing may not be as vital to driving as the ability to see, but there are many situations where hearing provides vital cues to drivers. A driver with hearing loss may not know there is an ambulance approaching if he cannot hear the siren, or might not hear the approach of an oncoming motorcycle.
Hearing-impaired drivers can customize their vehicles and maximize safety by:
- Increasing vision. Hearing-impaired drivers should sure their side-view and rear-view mirrors are properly adjusted and that they can see every mirror while sitting comfortably. Drivers can also invest in extra wide or panoramic mirrors to see more of the road behind them, or visual alert systems that light up when they detect sirens or honking.
- Maximizing hearing. Drivers should wear their hearing aids every time they drive, or use an FM system when there are passengers in the car to separate and understand multiple speakers. They should avoid turning up the music on the radio, in order to save what hearing they have for the road.
- Obeying the instrument panel. A limited-hearing driver should make sure to check his dashboard lights frequently to make sure fuel is not running low, a turn signal hasn’t been left on, or for visual clues to other problems with the vehicle. If a maintenance warning light comes on, take the car in for service as soon as possible (there may be a serious problem that isn’t obvious to the typical driver).
- Staying alert. If traffic begins pulling over, a driver should watch for the reflections of flashing lights in the car and in nearby building windows for signs of an oncoming ambulance or police car. He should keep in mind that emergency vehicles often travel together, and therefore wait until traffic begins moving to be sure all vehicles have passed. The hearing-impaired driver should take extra care when approaching a railroad crossing and look several times for flashing lights or signs of approaching trains from both directions.
- Knowing their limits. Even if a hearing-impaired person can drive safely, it does not mean he or she feels comfortable doing so—and being nervous leads to more driving errors. If you feel unsafe when driving, explore other options, such as public transportation or coordinating rides with a friend or relative.
Are you sure you will be able to hear the traffic around you? Your hearing needs may have changed in the past few years. Call us today at 866-517-4415 to set up an appointment with one of our hearing specialists.
Do I have conductive or sensorineural hearing loss?
Most patients with hearing loss will be diagnosed with sensorineural hearing loss, which is commonly caused by natural aging of the structures in the ear. However, some patients suffer from conductive hearing loss, which occurs due to damage or an obstruction in the middle ear that prevents sounds from being transmitted to the inner ear.
How Can I Tell If I Have Conductive Hearing Loss?
Conductive hearing loss can be caused by many different conditions, including wax blockages, infections (such as swimmer's ear), or a foreign object that has become lodged in the ear. A person with conductive hearing loss will usually experience a decrease in the volume of sounds, but have no difficulty understanding or processing different noises.
The most common symptoms of conductive hearing loss include:
- Ability to hear out of one ear but not the other.
- Pain or pressure in one or both ears.
- Difficulty or avoidance when talking on the telephone.
- Drainage, heat, or smells coming from the affected ear canal.
- The perception that the sufferer’s own voice sounds louder, quieter, or different than usual.
In many cases, conductive hearing loss can be corrected with medical intervention. Patients may hear better immediately after a hearing care professional removes a blockage of earwax or prescribes antibiotics to relieve an ear infection. Surgery may be needed to remove abnormal growths or foreign objects, but many cases will result in only temporary hearing losses.
Only a hearing care specialist can diagnose whether you have conductive hearing loss and find the solution that is best for you. Call us today at 866-517-4415 to set up an appointment, or stop by the office location nearest you!
Can hearing loss cause other health problems?
Yes. While hearing problems themselves do not necessarily cause other health issues, untreated hearing loss can place more strain on both the body and the brain, leading to potentially fatal conditions.
Patients who have been suffering from hearing loss for a year or longer could be at risk of other serious medical problems, such as:
- Falls. Humans rely on sound cues and motion perception in their inner ears to maintain their balance. The longer a person lives without adequate hearing, the more likely it is that he or she will be injured as a result of a trip or fall.
- Cognitive decay. As the brain becomes accustomed to not hearing noises, the processing portions of the brain begin to slow down or even shut off, leading to Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Patients with a severe degree of hearing loss are more at risk of mental and cognitive decline.
- Emotional problems. Researchers have established a link between hearing loss and emotional trauma. Hearing loss sufferers are under a great deal of stress, and often succumb to depression and anxiety, and could suffer physical manifestations of stress (such as high blood pressure or heart attacks).
Am I Already At Risk?
The best way to avoid health problems in the future is to have your hearing condition diagnosed as early as possible. Even if you have been suffering from a hearing problem for years, a hearing aid can help you regain independence and keep your body and brain healthy. Come in to one of our Florida offices for a hearing test, or call us today at 866-517-4415 to make an appointment.
How do I know if I have Hearing Loss?
Hearing loss can be due to the aging process, exposure to loud noise, certain medications, infections, head or ear trauma, congenital (at birth) or genetic factors, diseases, as well as a number of other causes. Recent data suggests there are over 34 million Americans with some degree of hearing loss. Hearing loss often occurs gradually throughout a lifetime. People with hearing loss compensate often without knowing they have hearing loss.
You may have a hearing loss if:
- You hear people speaking but you have to strain to understand their words.
- You frequently ask people to repeat what they said.
- You don’t laugh at jokes because you miss too much of the story or the punch line.
- You frequently complain that people mumble.
- You need to ask others about the details of a meeting you just attended.
- You play the TV or radio louder than your friends, spouse and relatives.
- You cannot hear the doorbell or the telephone.
- You find that looking at people when they speak to you makes it easier to understand.
- You miss environmental sounds such as birds or leaves blowing.
If you have any of these symptoms, you should see a hearing professional to have a formal hearing evaluation. This hearing test, or audiometric evaluation, is a diagnostic hearing test performed by a licensed hearing professional. A diagnostic hearing test is not just pressing the button when you hear a beep. Rather, an audiometric evaluation allows the hearing professional to determine the type and degree of your hearing loss and also indicates how well or how poorly you understand speech. Testing for speech understanding at different loudness levels and in different environments provides the professional with information about how successful amplification may be for your hearing loss.
The hearing evaluation should also include a thorough case history (interview) as well as a visual inspection of the ear canal and eardrum. Additional tests of the middle ear function may also be performed. The results of the evaluation are useful to a physician if the hearing professional determines that your hearing loss may be treated with medical or surgical alternatives. Results of the hearing evaluation are plotted on a graph called an audiogram. The audiogram provides a visual view of your hearing test results across various pitches. The audiogram and results from your speech understanding test are used to create a prescription and program the hearing aids.