June 4, 2019
People whose work and play put them at risk for ear damage commonly complain about difficulty hearing and ringing/buzzing in the ears. Construction workers, machinists, contractors and musicians find themselves immersed in loud sounds as a matter of common practice. Add off-the-job hobbies, such as shooting, power tools or practicing music, and you have a recipe for significant ear damage at an early age. Hearing loss is not a sign of aging, it’s more indicative of “wear and tear” of the ears.
Along with difficulty hearing soft speech and speech in background noise, many noise-damaged patients complain of incessant ringing or buzzing noises, particularly in quiet environments. While these are certainly signs one has done damage to the ears, it is important to note we now have excellent technology to effectively and discretely improve these symptoms.
For most hearing loss patients, the days of big, squawking hearing aids filling your ears or the big “shrimp” behind the ears are over. Most modern hearing instruments are very small and hide behind the top of the ear. Only a barely-visible wire enters the canal with amplified sound. The instruments are tuned to the frequencies of loss. High frequencies are added when the loss is in the highs. The same goes for a low or middle frequency losses.
For the additional symptom of tinnitus, the goal is to increase the amount of sound we receive. Silence will only allow tinnitus to become more dominant, as it is more a brain phenomenon triggered by ear damage. Many modern hearing instruments can be custom programmed with tinnitus therapy noise that can help promote long term “habituation” to tinnitus. Habituation is a powerful brain phenomenon that allows us to ignore familiar stimulation (like clothes on our skin or unappetizing odors) over time. Tinnitus can be come no more noticeable than a watch on your wrist or the rim of your glasses as you look through them.
The latest innovation is technology that pairs many modern hearing instruments with smart phones. Various iPhone or Android phones can utilize an app specific to the amplification and tinnitus of the patient. We can now control the sound into our ears much like we control virtually everything else in these days of text messages and social media, by tapping a screen on our phone. This is an unprecedented level of control by the wearer, and many people are experiencing improved quality of life though this technology.
Don’t miss out on the sounds of life. Be careful with noise exposure and utilize all the technology that is now available. We want to keep you on a clear path to good hearing and ear health.