People whose work and play put them at risk for ear damage often complain about difficulty hearing and ringing in the ears. Construction workers, machinists, contractors, musicians and others find themselves immersed in loud sounds as a matter of common practice. Add hobbies, such as shooting, power tools or practicing music, and you have a recipe for 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. These are signs one has done damage to the ears. It is important to note we now have technology to improve these symptoms effectively and discretely.
For most 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 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 tinnitus, the goal is to increase the amount of sound we receive. Silence will only allow tinnitus to become more dominant. This is more a brain phenomenon triggered by ear damage. Many modern hearing instruments can be custom programmed with tinnitus therapy noise. This 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. 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 hearing instruments with smart phones. iPhone or Android phones can utilize a tinnitus app specific to the amplification and tinnitus of the patient. We can now control sound into our ears much like we control virtually everything else. We tap a screen on our phone. This is an unprecedented level of control by the wearer. 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.
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