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Hearing Loss - A Useful Guide

• Written by Josh

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Hearing loss is quite common among older people. Just like our eyesight, changes to our hearing are a natural part of the ageing process. You may gradually begin to notice signs that it's happening to you. It's nothing to be embarrassed about! However, there are lots of things we can all do to protect our hearing.

Today's post will outline some tips for preventing hearing loss. But before we share our tips, let's take a look at some of the signs and symptoms of hearing loss.

Signs of Hearing Loss

It isn't always easy to notice hearing loss, especially if it happens gradually over time. According to the NHS, hearing loss can be temporary or permanent and can sometimes happen suddenly. Here are some of the most common signs of hearing loss:

  • Needing to turn the volume up higher than normal to hear the TV or radio.
  • Difficulty hearing other people clearly. You might misunderstand what people are saying or need them to repeat themselves, especially in loud, busy places.
  • Having to concentrate hard in order to hear what others are saying around you, which can lead to tiredness or stress.

You might only experience hearing loss in one ear. Usually, this is due to a build-up of earwax or an ear infection. If your hearing loss is only affecting one ear, you might notice the following symptoms:

  • Difficulty working out where sound is coming from.
  • Sounds generally seeming quieter than usual.
  • Worse hearing when the sound is coming from one side.

If you experience any of the symptoms listed above, you should make an appointment with your GP as soon as possible.

Treatments for Hearing Loss

If you visit your doctor, they will ask about the symptoms you have been experiencing and look inside your ears using a small torch and a magnifying glass. As we've mentioned, hearing loss can be temporary and sometimes gets better on its own.

However, you may require some medicine or a special procedure. For example, if your problems were caused by earwax, this can be sucked out with a vacuum or softened using eardrops. However, some hearing issues are permanent. In these cases, you will usually require further treatment in order to retain as much hearing as possible.

Here are some ways of treating hearing loss or reducing its effects:

  • Hearing Aids - A small electronic device that is placed into your ear. This device will make sounds louder and clearer, without giving you your full hearing back. There are several different types of hearing aids, with some going around the top and back of your ear and others going into the opening of the ear. Hearing aids are available on the NHS for anyone who needs them.
  • Hearing Implants - If a hearing aid doesn't help, a special device can be fitted inside or to your skull during an operation. There are a few different types of hearing implants available, such as bone anchored hearing aids, cochlear implants, and auditory brainstem implants.
  • Sign Language / Lip Readings - If you develop severe hearing loss it can affect your ability to communicate with others. To combat this, you might want to learn new methods of communication that you can use instead of spoken English.

We know that some people feel self-conscious about wearing a hearing aid. Now, with wonderful developments in technology, lots of hearing aids are almost invisible! While hearing loss is nothing to be ashamed of, a smaller discreet hearing aid might make you feel more confident.

 

How to Reduce the Risk of Hearing Loss

Although hearing loss is often a natural part of growing older, there are ways to lower your risk of losing your hearing. Let's look at some examples.

Make use of Free Hearing Tests

Just like with your eye tests, NHS hearing tests are also free of charge. Having regular tests makes sure that professionals can detect any hearing problems sooner rather than later. During your appointment you'll likely have a few different tests, such as:

  • Pure Tone Audiometry - You will listen to different sounds through headphones and press a button or raise your hand every time you hear something.
  • Speech Perception Test - You will listen to speech, rather than sounds.
  • Tympanometry - A device is placed into your ear which checks for any fluid behind the eardrum.

Wear Ear Protection

This is especially useful if you work in a noisy environment such as a construction site or factory. Being around loud machinery can put a lot of pressure on your eardrum. Therefore, we would suggest wearing ear defenders or earplugs whilst you're at work.

Away from the workplace, you should also consider ear protection gear if you go to a music concert or a motorsport event such as Formula One. Music concerts are a leading cause of Tinnitus problems. It may sound obvious, but you should also avoid standing near the speakers!

Be Sensible with your TV and Music

Listening to loud music for long periods of time, especially through earphones, is not good for your ears. You should keep the sound at a sensible level and take breaks throughout the day (five minutes each hour according to the NHS). If other people around you can hear your music through your headphones, the volume is too loud.

The same goes for your TV. If you're struggling to hear your TV, you should visit your doctor rather than cranking the volume up. By turning up the volume, you might well be doing extra damage to your ears!

Maintain Ear Hygiene 

Did you know that your ears clean themselves? Earwax gets pushed to the surface very slowly. All you need to do is gently wipe around your ears after a bath or shower. Remember, earwax is a natural protector of your ear, so unless there is excessive wax in your ears which is causing problems, there's no need to remove it. Cotton buds usually do more harm than good! They can even perforate the eardrum, which can cause permanent hearing loss or damage.

Personal Alarm Information

As we get older, health problems like hearing loss can make us feel vulnerable. A personal alarm can give you and your loved ones peace of mind 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

For more information about our life-saving personal alarm service, please get in touch with our friendly team on 0800 999 0400. Alternatively, complete our quick Contact Us form and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

Don't forget, you can also order your Lifeline alarm online today.

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