Today’s article will walk you through the basics of hearing loss and the early symptoms to look out for. Recognizing these warning signs within yourself gives you the best chance to react quickly and seek the appropriate help, halting or reversing damage that may otherwise prove permanent.
Is it possible to stop hearing loss in its tracks?
Hearing loss can arise suddenly in the wake of an injury or infection, but in most cases, it occurs gradually over time, the result of the natural aging process and inadequate care in response to excessive noise. But what signs should we be looking out for in each instance, and what steps can we take to protect or improve the strength of our hearing?
You should start by considering the root cause of the problem, as this will likely determine how much can be done to alleviate it. In the case of age-related hearing loss, the right care can delay the process and ease discomfort, but unfortunately there is less chance of reversing it than there is following more superficial damage.
Given the complexity of hearing disorders, and the myriad ways they can manifest in each individual, it is important to clarify that those with specific congenital hearing impairments should seek tailored advice from a health professional. The following tips are aimed at those who have experienced mild hearing loss, whether sudden or over time, typically as the result of external factors – such as excessive noise exposure or poor ear care.
Hearing loss and its impact on mental health
Hearing loss can cause more than just physical problems. The process can trigger frustration, irritability, and even depression. It is all too easy to try and shrug off the way hearing loss can knock your confidence, and in such situations, the support of loved ones is important. Opening up to people about your concerns and feeling less alone is a great first step towards reaching out for help from your GP. It is very possible that they will be able to help you directly, but when dealing with more complex cases, they may refer you to a hearing specialist, such as an ENT or audiologist.
What are the symptoms of hearing loss?
There are many symptoms that can indicate hearing loss. By reacting early, we give ourselves a chance to maintain comfort in our everyday lives. The distinction between rapid and gradual loss can often help identify its cause, and therefore how best to respond. If the problem arises suddenly, it is likely the result of injury or infection, and your doctor will be able to talk you through treatment options, such as antibiotics. When taking place over time, our senses constantly adjust to try and compensate for the loss, making it surprisingly difficult to spot right away.
By paying close attention to the severity and duration of the problem, and how much it is affecting you day-to-day, it should quickly become clear whether rest and home remedies, or professional medical assistance are the best path for you (though never be afraid to reach out to your GP for advice when in doubt).
If you find that sounds are muffled, or you struggle to follow conversations (whether in person or on the phone), this could be a sign of hearing loss. Tinnitus (a constant ringing noise) or a clogged-up feeling inside your ear are also cause for concern.
A very common early sign for a lot of people is the need to turn the volume up higher than usual on the TV or radio, and repeatedly asking people to repeat themselves. If this is something you or others in your household notice you are doing, don’t brush it off as nothing!
Another common symptom is feeling uncomfortable or overwhelmed in busy, loud environments, such as restaurants or parties, as you find it increasingly difficult to distinguish individual noises. And while it may be amusing to some when questions are repeatedly misheard, the embarrassment can cause the sufferer to withdraw, leading to feelings of isolation.
If, following consultation with a doctor or specialist, they advise you be fitted for a hearing aid, don’t let this unsettle you. There is no shame in relying on these handy little devices, and with designs becoming ever more discreet, it is possible no one need even know you are wearing one if that is what you prefer.
What can be done to prevent hearing loss in the first place?
As with most things, prevention is always better than cure, and thankfully, there are some simple steps you can take to protect yourself from hearing loss.
Perhaps the most important factor is maintaining good ear hygiene. Avoid using earbuds to remove wax, as when used incorrectly, these can damage the eardrum or cause the wax to be pushed deeper into the ear canal, compounding the problem. Instead, reach for sprays designed to help break up wax, or contact your GP and request a professional cleaning.
Having mentioned your GP, regular examinations with them (or a relevant specialist should you have specific concerns or existing problems) are also important: this will allow you to identify irregularities faster, and get help right away.
You can also safeguard your hearing by avoiding situations that will expose you to excessive, potentially harmful levels of noise as much as possible, and by utilizing appropriate protection when necessary (like earmuffs and earplugs).
Protecting your hearing with earplugs
Using earplugs is not a magic way to reverse the effects of hearing loss, but it can help to stop it from happening (or from getting worse). When considering if and when to use earplugs, there are two key factors to take into account: the level of decibels you will be exposed to, and the length of time you will be there. When one or both of these figures is high, pack your plugs!
With that said, people known to be particularly at risk of hearing loss are those who work in noisy environments (such as construction sites and industrial factories), those who practice sports that generate intense noise (such as motor sports and shooting), and those within the music industry (such as DJs and musicians).
However, it is not only at work that we may be exposed to harmful or disruptive noise levels. Maybe there is a concert nearby, or you live on a busy street? Perhaps your neighbors are throwing a party or your house is on a flight path? There are all sorts of situations that make it worth having earplugs to hand.
By maintaining comfort in the moment, and protecting hearing in the long run, earplugs can benefit everyone’s ear health. Opting for a MULTI 10 pack from HASPRO or our easily moldable plugs mean you can always have a pair to hand – no matter the noisy situation that may arise.