Are there jobs that you wouldn’t want to try if you are hearing impaired? It might seem like hearing loss is the kind of thing that would hold one back, but it affects more than 20 percent of the people in the U.S. Many of them have jobs that might appear difficult to do without almost perfect hearing. You’d be surprised, individuals with hearing loss are lawyers, actors, musicians, lawmakers, 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 knows better than a medical practitioner that hearing loss and intellectual ability having nothing to do with one another. Being hearing impaired is simply a mechanical failure of one or more portions of the auditory system. It has nothing to do with cognitive function or problem-solving skills.
A person with hearing loss must start by accepting that they can’t let themselves be held back by this one sense or lack of it. Doctors look for solutions to overcome the potentials hurdles related to their ear health.
They Get a Professional Diagnosis
A doctor who notices a gradual hearing loss should automatically do what everyone else needs to, as well — see an ear specialist and get a proper diagnosis. The hearing reduction can occur for different reasons, some of which will be reversible. Maybe the problem is 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
Just because you have hearing loss doesn’t mean you necessarily have to just live with it. A physician understands the importance of hearing assistance tools like quality hearing aids. After getting a hearing test, you can work with a certified retailer to find a brand and model hearing aid that best suits your needs.
For instance, a physician might benefit from hearing aids that are Bluetooth compatible and have directional microphones. Bluetooth allows the physician to connect the hearing aids to a smartphone or computer 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 medical provider that might include joining professional organizations to network with colleagues facing the same challenges. The Association of Medical Professionals With Hearing Losses is a good fit for our industrious doctor. They not only connect you 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, whether it is new or something you have lived with your whole life, opens up new challenges, but, just maybe, it opens the door to opportunities, as well. Take Dr. Philip Zazove, for example. Dr. Zazove has been deaf most of his life and faced those challenges first hand. He states in an article for CNN Health that he applied to 12 different medical schools and struggled to even get interviews despite doing well on the MCATs. After attending graduate school, he finally was given a chance to go to medical school.
Today, he uses his hearing loss to better relate to his patients. In his family practice, he works with many who are hard of hearing or profoundly deaf. His life experiences have given him a unique opportunity to help others find their path.
What do doctors with hearing loss do? The same thing anyone does, they push forward against the things that work to hold them back and that starts with a proper diagnosis and hearing test, though.
When it comes to making the decision to be fitted for hearing aids, you may be wondering, “Can I get by with wearing a hearing aid in just one ear?”
Let’s take a look at when you should consider getting two hearing aids and when you should consider just getting one.
Temporary Versus Permanent Hearing Loss
It’s important to first determine whether your hearing loss is temporary or permanent. This can be answered by a qualified professional following a thorough examination. If your hearing loss is attributable to any of the following situations, it’s likely temporary.
- Wax buildup that can be remedied in a clinical setting
- Prescription medications with a side effect of partial loss of hearing in one or both ears
- Head cold, ear infection or other illness
- Exposure to loud sounds
If the hearing loss is temporary, your doctor can address ways to work with this prognosis. But if you’re hearing loss is permanent, you’ll want to consider hearing aids. Now the question becomes, one hearing 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!
As your hearing starts to decline, it’s the little things that you’ll notice first — small problems that tend to interfere with your life. One or more of these symptoms may actually be what gets you to the ear doctor, but, in the meantime, how can you overcome these common issues? If you’re one of the millions of people in this country experiencing gradual hearing loss, consider five ways it can affect your life and what you can do about it.
1. Ringing in the Ears
That ringing you think you hear is actually an irritating side effect of hearing loss — one that can definitely change your life. Tinnitus is a symptom of hearing decline, especially when it’s age-related. Not everyone hears ringing, though, for some people tinnitus is a:
No matter what sound you hear, it can get in the way of just trying to think clearly.
Start by learning to recognize irritants that might trigger these phantom noises such as caffeine. Keep a journal to record what you were doing right before the noise started like listening to music using headphones or eating a meal with a lot of salt. One by one, you will identify your personal tinnitus triggers and 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 along 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 possible. 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 to you. Looking for ways to eliminate that extra stress such as wearing hearing aids can reduce your frustration, but so will learning different ways to relax. 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 gradual, so it’s easy to deny. People tend to find other reasons for the problem like the volume on the TV isn’t working as well as it used to or that one friend was always a mumbler. Pay attention to the patterns that are forming and listen to what the people in your life are telling you. Often, they are the first to realize someone they care about has hearing loss.
Of course, you have the ability to overcome most of these problems at one time 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 people don’t always 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 are probably still bad drivers.
What should you do if you are experiencing hearing loss and still want to drive to work each day or take a car trip vacation this 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 relates to hearing, 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.
Even with hearing aids, you will still need to be a more observant driver, which brings us to tip number two – get your eyesight checked. Let’s face it when it comes to driving, vision is the sense that matters most, so make sure yours is up to snuff. Ask the doctor to check your night vision, too, just to be safe. If you don’t hear well, you need to be extra cautious about visual acuity.
Keep the noise down inside the car. This will allow you to focus what hearing you do have on the road without distractions. Turn the radio off and ask your passengers to keep the chatter to a minimum.
Learn to check your dashboard often. 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 65 years or older suffers from a degree of hearing loss, according to Hearing Loss Association of America. It could be that they took precautions early in life to save their hearing but was it enough?
Hearing deficiencies related to aging amount to the break down of many delicate hair cells in the cochlea, the inner ear, that move when sound hits them. Loud sounds play a big part in that process, however. It’s the little things you do now that can save those tiny hairs, reducing the danger of hearing loss as a person ages. There is no guarantee that you won’t be that one in three who experiences some hearing loss, but the odds are in your favor if you take steps to protect your ears now. Consider three simple things you can do to lower your risk of hearing loss.
1. Do a Home Noise Evaluation
Evaluating your home environment is a good place to start. Try to figure out what things there might expose your ears to uncomfortable noise levels. For example, what is the normal TV volume in your home? How about your tunes? Do you use headphones to listen to them?
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.
The best way to pick the right hearing expert is to get to know them.
Call today to cut through the confusion about hearing loss and hearing aids.
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