Is hearing loss something you should let choose your career path for you? For that matter, is there any career that you couldn’t do with a hearing problem? More than 20 percent of the population in the United States has some form of hearing loss and many of them have jobs that you might think are impossible without a perficient hearing. You might even be surprised to learn that individuals with hearing loss are lawyers, actors, musicians, dentists, judges and, yes, even doctors.
The fact is determined people who are hearing challenged find few limitations in their lives, especially given today’s advancements in hearing technology. Physicians that face this problem just look for workarounds that help them accomplish their goals. It is, after all, one small obstacle in a road full of challenges. How do physicians who have hearing loss manage their jobs?
They Understand Their Condition
Who would know better than a doctor that hearing loss and intelligence having nothing to do with one another. Hearing impairment is simply a mechanical failure of some portion of the auditory system. It doesn’t have anything to do with cognitive thinking or problem-solving skills.
Once a person with hearing loss accepts that they can stop being held back by this one sense, or lack of it. Doctors look for solutions that help them overcome any hurdles related to their ear health.
They Get a Professional Diagnosis
A physician experiencing gradual hearing loss will know to do what everyone else should too — see an ear specialist and get a proper diagnosis. Hearing loss can occur for many reasons and some of them are reversible. The problem may be excess ear wax, for example.
Chances are a medical doctor will also know to get regular hearing tests to gauge their decline. This allows you to be proactive about your hearing health.
They Get Hearing Assistance
There is no rule that says you must learn to live with hearing loss. Doctors understand the importance of hearing assistance tools like good quality digital hearing aids. After the hearing test, a physician would know to work with a certified retailer to find a brand and model hearing aid that best suits his or her needs.
It’s possible a physician might do well with hearing aids that are Bluetooth compatible, for instance, and have directional microphones. Bluetooth allows the physician to connect the hearing aids to a smartphone or tablet and directional microphones enhance conversation in noisy environments. Noise reduction probably comes in handy, as well, to filter out background noise.
They Get a Strong Support System
For a physician that might include joining professional organizations to network with colleagues facing the same challenges. The Association of Medical Professionals With Hearing Losses is a practical choice for an industrious doctor. They will connect clinicians with other professionals online and via conferences, but they offer some must-have resources, too including ones that help the hearing challenged physician to find the right stethoscope.
They Use Their Disability to Grow
There is little doubt that hearing loss, new or a lifelong, opens up some career concerns, but, just maybe, it leads to new opportunities, as well. Consider Dr. Philip Zazove, for example. Dr. Zazove has been deaf most of his life and saw the challenges first hand. He states in an article for CNN Health that he applied to 12 separate medical schools and didn’t even get interviews despite doing well on the MCATs. After settling for graduate school, he was finally given a chance to go to medical school.
Nowadays, he uses his hearing loss to help his patients facing similar problems. In his family practice, he works with many who are hard of hearing or severely deaf. His life experiences have given him a distinctive opportunity to help others find their own way through life despite the challenges they face.
What do physicians with hearing loss do? The same thing anyone else does, they march on against the things that work to hold them back beginning with a proper diagnosis and hearing test.
When it’s time to make a decision about hearing aids, you might wonder, “Do I really need two hearing aids or will one do?”
Is there really a point to spending the money on two hearing aids when your hearing loss only affects one ear? Let’s look at why you might consider getting two hearing aids and when one really is enough.
Temporary Versus Permanent Hearing Loss
This is a critical distinction. Is your hearing loss temporary or permanent? The best person to ask is a qualified medical specialist after getting a full ear exam and maybe a professional hearing test. If you find your hearing loss is due to any of the following situations, chances are it is temporary:
- A wax blockage that can be remedied in a clinical setting
- A side effect of prescription medications
- The common cold, an ear infection or other acute medical condition
- Exposure to a loud noise
Assuming your hearing loss is temporary, your doctor can find a solution that returns it to you. If you’re hearing loss is permanent, though, then your next decision will be regarding hearing aids — but is that one hearing aid or two?
When Should I Consider Getting Two Hearing Aids?
Hearing aids are an investment, so It’s tempting to purchase just one and save the expense of a second device. You might want to reconsider, though. There are benefits to getting a hearing aid for each ear, especially if you have some hearing loss in both such as:
- Better clarity and alertness that having two functional ears gives you
- Research suggests that hearing well in both ears lets your brain distinguish between important auditory input and useless background noise
- Two hearing aids help you locate where sound comes from so you can fully tune into the message
- Offers a sense of clarity through balancing incoming stimuli
- Lowers the risk of developing tinnitus
- Decreases the chance of auditory deprivation, in other words, there is a tendency for the function of an unaided ear to decline
What Is Single-Sided Hearing Loss?
Single-sided, or unilateral, hearing loss occurs when you can hear well in one ear and have difficulty in the other.
When Should I Consider Getting One Hearing Aid?
The three primary reasons to purchase just one hearing aid is that you have single-sided hearing loss, you’re completely and irreversibly deaf in one ear or you have age-induced cognitive delays.
Assuming you do have some hearing loss in just one ear, you won’t need a hearing aid in your other one. This is also true if you are permanently deaf in the one ear, there is no point in purchasing a second hearing aid. These two situations will not improve with the addition of a second hearing aid.
If you are a person over the age of 85 and have cognitive delays, choosing to wear two hearing aids might create excess auditory stimuli, enough that it becomes overwhelming and confusing. You might find you struggle to separate speech patterns from other speech or background noise, as well.
The final reason to choose only one hearing aid is it’s just too big of a financial burden if you do try to buy two. Make sure you exhaust all of your options first, though, before settling for just the one hearing-assistance device. Look to social services and your insurance company for help.
Choosing The Right Hearing Aid For You
Of course, you want what’s best for your ears, so you can continue to participate in all the activities you love. For more information on hearing health, check us out today!
When your hearing starts to decline, it’s the little things that stand out in your mind — small issues that change in your life and grab your attention. Chances are it’s the change that will eventually get you to the ear doctor, but, until then, how can you overcome these very familiar hearing-related problems? If you’re one of the millions of people in the United States that is experiencing some kind of hearing loss, consider five things you might notice and what you can do about them.
That sound you imagine you are hearing is really just an annoying side effect your hearing change — one that can grate on your nerves. Tinnitus is a flag that usually indicates hearing decline, especially as a person gets older. Not everyone hears ringing, though, for some people it’s a:
Regardless of what sound you think you hear, it will take it’s toll eventually.
Begin by learning to recognize things that can sometimes trigger tinnitus such as drinking coffee or soda. Keep a log and record what you do right before the noise starts such as using your headphone to listen to some tunes or putting extra salt on your food. Over time, you will identify your personal tinnitus triggers and be able to eliminate them.
You may also need to find ways to cover this noise up, especially at night when you are trying to fall asleep. Something as simple as a fan running in the room can mask the sound of tinnitus and give you some relief.
2. Problems Following Conversation
Gradual hearing loss can mean you start noticing people mumble more or certain words are never clear. Hearing aids will go a long way towards eliminating all these issues. If you are not quite ready to go down that road, there are a few tricks you might try.
Put yourself in the best position to hear. Face the person you are talking to and look at them as they speak. The combination of what you hear and what you see might be enough to clarify things.
Go out of your way to have conversations in quiet areas, too. Background noise will make it harder to understand speech. Step away from fans and turn off the TV, for instance.
Ask for clarification when you can. If you are having problems hearing, it’s probably not a secret, so just put it out there. Telling someone you are talking to that you have a hearing challenge is enough to get them to speak clearly and turn up the volume a bit.
Fighting to hear every word is exhausting and that fatigue catches up with you. Looking for ways to eliminate that extra stress such as wearing hearing aids can reduce your frustration, but so will learning different relaxation techniques. Find a hobby that refocuses your mind, something like learning to paint or crochet. Practice extreme breathing exercises, too. They will teach you the art of calming yourself when you feel overcome with stress.
One of the best ways to handle this type of chaos, though, is to exercise daily. Working out forces your body to release hormones that help calm you and make everything seem less stressful.
4. Social Withdrawal
Loss of hearing will leave you feeling left out of the loop and maybe different than everyone else in some way — like you can’t understand even the simplest of things anymore. That’s will make anyone want to turn down a chance to get out with friends. As a result, you may end up spending more time alone and socially isolated.
The way to get back your life is to accept what is happening to you. Once you take that step, you can find ways to fight the desire to avoid time with family and friends. When you do head out for the night, tell the people you are with about your struggle. You might find that instead of being alone, you end up with a support system that can help.
Age-related hearing loss is usually slow, so it’s easy to deny. Individuals often blame other things like the old TV or that one friend who never did speak very clear. Watch for patterns in your thinking and listen to what your friends and family are telling you. It’s not uncommon for the family to be the first to notice someone they love has hearing loss.
Don’t forget, too, you can eliminate most of these problems in one swoop just by getting an ear exam, a proper diagnosis and, maybe, hearing aids. If even one of these scenarios sounds familiar, then it’s time to for a professional hearing test.
Hearing loss is a common ailment that older individuals must deal with, but should it be why they stop driving? There is no real answer since few people drive exactly the same way.
A loss of hearing is definitely something you want to consider when getting behind the wheel of your car, but a safe driver isn’t going to change just because they notice mild hearing loss. People who were bad drivers before their hearing challenge began will still be bad drivers after.
What should you do if you are experiencing hearing loss and still want to drive to work each day or take a road trip during the summer? Is it still safe even though you don’t hear as well?
Think Beyond the Wheel
If you do notice hearing loss, chances are it won’t really affect your driving…not right away, at least. That day may be coming, though, especially if you don’t do something to stop the decline.
Johns Hopkins Medicine reports there is a direct connection between ear health and brain health. Fighting to hear changes the way the brain to uses valuable resources. It’s a struggle to understand words, for instance. This is likely a contributing factor to brain atrophy, which means dementia. A person suffering with dementia certainly can’t drive.
What About Driving?
Driving requires keen observational skills and some of that is auditory, but that doesn’t mean you can’t drive with hearing loss. The Center for Hearing and Communication estimates about 48 million Americans have significant hearing loss and a good portion of them still drive.
At least one study found that people behind the wheel that do have hearing loss tend to be more visually observant and, generally, drive more cautiously. They drive slower in traffic and use their mirrors more to make up for what they may not hear.
Tips for Driving With Hearing Loss
The first tip is to stop procrastinating. See a doctor, get a hearing test and consider how hearing aids can change things for you. Hearing aids can help eliminate the “should I be driving with hearing loss” question.
When wearing your hearing aids, you need to be be a more observant driver, which leads you to tip number two – get your vision tested. After all, when it comes to driving, vision is the thing that matters most, so it’s time to ensure yours is good enough for driving. Ask your physician to double-check your night vision, too, just so you know whether driving after sundown is a viable option for you. If you don’t hear well, you need to be extra cautious about your eye health and vision.
Keep the chaos down inside the car, too. In other words, get the noise to a minimum, so you can focus on hearing the important stuff without distractions. Shut the radio off completely and ask anyone riding with you to keep quiet, as well.
Get used to checking your dashboard regularly. It’s the little things that will add up when you drive with hearing loss. For example, you will no longer hear that clicking noise that tells you that your turn signal is on. You will have to rely on your eyes to pick up the slack, so get in the habit of checking to see what your car is trying to tell you.
Make maintenance a priority. You’re not going to hear that rattling noise under the hood anymore or the warning bell telling you there is a problem with your engine or another critical component. That is a major safety hazard, so make a point of having your car serviced routinely. That’s a good idea for most people but a necessity if you are driving with hearing loss.
Watch the other cars closely. Of course, you would do that anyway, but you want to look for signs you might be missing something. You may not hear emergency sirens, for instance, so if the cars pulling over to the side, you should too. Look to see how other drivers are responding to their surroundings to get clues on what you might not be hearing.
Can you drive with hearing loss? That’s up to you. It is possible to be a good driver even if your hearing is not what it used to be because odds are your other senses will help you make the adjustment. If the idea makes you nervous, though, then it’s time to see an ear specialist and find a solution to improve your situation like wearing hearing aids.
One in every three people over the age of 65 suffers from some form of hearing loss, according to Hearing Loss Association of America. Is it possible that they could have taken steps early in life to protect their hearing?
Age-related hearing loss is really the break down of the tiny hair cells in the ears that vibrate as sound hits them. Noise plays a big part in that process, though. Doing little things early in life can protect those delicate cells, reducing your overall risk of hearing loss as you age. There is no guarantee that you won’t be that one in three who suffers some hearing loss, but the odds are better if you take precautions now. Consider three basic steps you can take to lower your risk of hearing loss.
1. Do a Home Noise Evaluation
Start at home by figuring out what things you do regularly that expose your ears to loud noises. For example, what is the standard TV volume in your home? How about music? Do you use headphones for either one?
Now is a good time to lose the headphones. Sound travels in waves. Headphones and ear buds introduce those waves directly into the ear canal. It’s a little like the difference shooting a gun from point blank range instead of from 100 feet away. By putting headphones on, you are exposing your ears to sound waves that are much stronger than they should be and damage the intricate components of your ears in the process.
Consider what other things you might do around the house that can introduce loud noise into your life. Perhaps you have a woodworking shop or some other craft that requires you to use loud equipment? Even things like mowing the lawn will take a toll. You don’t have to stop doing the things you love, just make sure you have the proper ear protection on hand when you do them like noise dampening ear muffs.
2. Exercise Regularly
Exercise is one of the best things you can do for your body– including your ears. Regular fitness schedule lowers your risk of chronic illnesses like diabetes or hypertension. These illnesses can affect your hearing as you get older. The truth is any kind of exercise will do, so go out and pick something you really enjoy like swimming or biking. Keep track of your activity, too, and ensure you meet the recommended standards offered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For adults, that means about 150 minutes a week of moderate to intense aerobic activity along with strength training at least two days a week.
3. Get Regular Ear Checkups
Like most health problems, the earlier you detect hearing loss, the better. A regular ear check-up will spot problem areas and allow you to see an ear specialist if necessary. For most people, it will also mean the occasional professional hearing test. Get the first one as early in life as possible. This can serve as a baseline as you grow older. When you get additional tests every few years, you will start to see how your hearing is changing. If you notice a drop, medical intervention might be able to slow or even stop the hearing loss progression.
A trip to the doctor each year for an ear exam helps you manage your hearing and control loss. The doctor can eliminate earwax blockage safely, for example. A physician will also know what types of drugs put your hearing at risk, preventing medication-related damage.
There is no perfect way to make sure you don’t have hearing loss later in life, but a little forward-thinking will certainly improve your odds of enjoying your golden years with the best hearing possible.