Learn about identifying and managing hearing loss
ONCE we hit 50 most of us are affected by hearing changes; it's one of those things that happens with ageing.
University of Melbourne audiology lecturer Dr Caitlin Barr says about 80 per cent of people over 80 have hearing loss.
Because it is often a slow onset, Dr Carr says it can also be a gradual change of what we do to counter our hearing problems that leads us slowly to the realisation we need to take some action.
"You can have a hearing loss and it doesn't bother you because you don't do things in your day to day life that require hearing, or you might have a substantial hearing loss which is really problematic for you," Dr Carr said.
To help us understand what to look for and how to deal with hearing loss, Dr Carr offers the following tips.
Signs of hearing loss
"The signs can be varied and will depend on the individual's lifestyle," Dr Barr said.
The usual signs are:
- Feeling more tired.
- No longer enjoying social interactions because they have become hard work.
- Relationship difficulties because communication has become harder, and it's not obvious that your hearing is the issue.
- Turning the television or music volume louder than before.
- Hearing what sounds like mumbling when in fact the person is speaking clearly. As we age we tend to lose our sensitivity to high pitch sound, before low pitch sound, which makes hearing speech a problem.
What can I do?
- Visit an Audiology Australia credited audiologist for a diagnostic hearing test. Dr Barr suggests taking with you a family member or friend who knows about your hearing problems.
- Get tested every five years, even if you aren't concerned about your hearing.
- If you get a commonly available screening test, then Dr Barr suggests taking that test results to a clinic that will also do the diagnostic test for an in-depth review.
- There are online screening tests available, but there are variabilities with the type and quality of your headphones.
Managing your hearing
Most of what we can do to reduce hearing loss we should have done in our younger years. "It's all about how long and how loud," Dr Barr said.
- If you have to listen to something loud, do it for short periods of time.
- As a general rule, nothing smaller than an elbow should go in your ears.
- Wax is a good thing as it exists as a protectant. If wax isn't escaping effectively then an audiologist can remove it.
- If a person wears a hearing aid, then wax can become a problem.