Is it Time for a Hearing Checkup?

Carolyn Tinglin_Registered Nurse Carolyn Tinglin is a Registered Nurse with a Master’s degree in Rehabilitation Science. Her passion is healthy aging. Throughout her career, she has published numerous articles on health, wellness, aging and recently presented at the International Council on Active Aging conference. Carolyn also works as an assistant professor at the University of the Fraser Valley.

If you can’t remember your last audiology appointment or if you’ve mastered the art of lip reading out of necessity, it may be time to have your ears checked.

According to the Canadian Hearing Society (2013) 25% of Canadians experience some kind of hearing loss. Furthermore, almost half of mature adults (over 45) experience hearing loss. Aging is the top risk factor for developing hearing loss and the complications of unmanaged hearing loss shouldn’t be taken lightly.

What causes hearing loss?

Common causes of hearing loss include:

  • Increased age
  • Persistent, long-term and loud noise exposure
  • Inner, middle and outer ear infections
  • Medications such as anti-inflammatories, aspirin and antibiotics (gentamycin)
  • Conditions such as stroke
  • Head injury

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How do I know if I’m losing my hearing?

Are you unsure if you’re experiencing hearing loss, versus a temporary hearing issue?

Other than the obvious signs such as straining to hear conversations, not hearing well while talking on the phone, ringing or buzzing in the ears, or favoring one ear over the other; there are screening tools like the HHIE screening tool that can help identify early hearing difficulties. It’s a questionnaire that was developed years ago, but is still used to screen older adults for hearing loss.

The questionnaire asks simple questions about situations, circumstances and risks.  The link to the questionnaire is here.

What complications result from hearing loss?

Mature adults who experience hearing loss sometimes becomes socially isolated because they’re unable to interact and socialize with others due to their decreased ability to hear. Unmanaged symptoms of hearing loss can also lead to cognitive decline and increased risk of falling.

How can I protect my hearing?

You can protect yourself from noise-related hearing loss, by limiting your exposure to everything from loud music, to lawn mowers, by wearing ear plugs, ear muffs or staying clear of sustained loud noises all together.

Get regular hearing tests, be honest and upfront with your healthcare provider about the symptoms you’re experiencing. Unmanaged hearing loss can interfere with everyday activities, but if you take a proactive role in managing your risk of hearing loss, there is no reason why you can’t experience the joyous sounds of life.

 

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