Friday, January 21, 2011

Say Again, Louder, Please

About six months ago I notice a significant hearing loss in my right ear. It was about the same time as a one hour static laden session on the ham radio and a summer of swimming. I don’t know if either thing caused the loss or if it was just time.

While I didn’t routinely listen to loud music as a teenager, dances always played music too loudly and I remember occasionally sitting directly in front of the speakers. I had a pistol from the time I was sixteen and back in those days nobody talked about ear protection while shooting. Later, I worked outside with lawn mowers, weed eaters and other loud equipment. These are all contributing factors to hearing loss.

The graph above shows my hearing range. The green line is the level for normal hearing. It is a straight line. The red line shows the hearing in my left ear. The right line shows the hearing in my right ear. Even though the lines are fairly close together, the differences are exponential. The dip in the upper mid range is where my hearing loss is most apparent. The ENT specialist was only surprised that only my right ear was at that level. Usually both ears deteriorate in hearing at pretty much the same rate.

Rather than getting hearing aids at this time, I’ll just compensate like I do with my contacts. I wear both of them if I watch a 3D movie. I wear one if I’m driving anywhere, especially at night. Most of the time I go au natural...ocularly speaking, and don’t notice any difference or problem. I now walk with my wife on my left side to hear her better. I hold the phone to my left hear and I will increase the occurrences of saying, “What?” or “Say that again, please.”

One really good piece of advice came from the ENT. If you wake up one morning and suddenly can’t hear in one or both ears, immediately call a specialist. Do not even wait a day or a weekend. If that is treated quickly, much or all of your hearing can be returned. Unfortunately, if you wait you lose that opportunity.

Ah, life. What doesn’t wear out, fall out, stop working or sag, usually just gets in the way, but if that all didn’t happen, none of us would ever want to leave.