Seeing hearing loss as a disability works like quicksand, keeping you stuck in one place without finding solutions and workarounds in both your personal and business life. Hearing loss is a challenge. It’s important to recognize that up front because once you do, you start moving forward to triumph over it.
In order to beat that challenge and regain control, you must adapt to the changes as they happen whether it’s a constant ringing in your ears, the struggle to fill-in missing words or figuring out how to communicate effectively with someone you love. It’s estimated that over 48 million people in this country have some level of hearing loss, if you are one of them, how can you triumph?
What Causes Hearing Loss?
Understanding your condition is an excellent place to start. There are a number of factors involved in hearing loss. A majority of people dealing with a gradual decrease suffer from presbycusis, a condition associated with aging. Presbycusis is a natural breakdown of critical nerve cells in the inner ear from years of use.
Age-related hearing loss is one of the most talked about forms, but not the only potential cause. Disease, for example, can damage the delicate mechanisms of the ear, reducing their effectiveness. Medications can also wreak havoc on the inner ears. For some people, their hearing loss is due to a congenital disability or genetic condition.
Lifestyle plays a vital role in hearing health for most of us, exposing us to a lifetime of ear-damaging noise. Everything from headphones kids wear when playing their favorite online game or listening to music to noisy environments. Loud sounds are one of the biggest culprits when it comes to gradual hearing loss.
For those with a slow decrease in hearing, it’s time to figure out what you can do now to stop the progression. Make a note of all the things that may be contributing to the problem like headphones, earbuds and those evenings listening to live music. Put down the headphones and earbuds and get ear protection for your nights out. It’s an easy fix that will make all the difference in your hearing.
Next, make an appointment with your physician for an exam and hearing test. Hearing loss can be a symptom of another illness like high blood pressure or diabetes, too. A check-up will also rule out a fixable problem like earwax blockage or infection. A professional hearing test marks your current hearing status to provide a baseline to measure any future decline.
For some people experiencing a change, the real battle is trying to deal with the ringing or clicking sound that comes with many forms of hearing loss. Tinnitus is noises that only you hear. They can be irritating enough to affect your quality of life. It presents as:
To master this challenge, you must find ways to filter out the ringing. White noise machines are effective at night, and hearing aids work well during the day. Some also have luck with meditation that teaches the brain to push away the phantom sounds.
Find Your Personal Triumph Strategy
The truth is no two people experience the same challenges with hearing loss. It’s important to figure out your personal ones and then look for solutions. It’s the little things that make a difference when it comes to enhancing communication skills, for example. Maybe try standing in front of the person you are talking to instead of to the side. A shift in position will focus the sound waves, so they enter the ear canals at almost full force.
Take the time when possible to give your ears a break from the noise. The struggle to hear is exhausting, so isolating yourself in a quiet place for just a few minutes will improve your ability to hear and understand words.
Take advantage of the tools available to you, too. In other words, look at the assistive technology products on the market like hearing aids and home safety devices such as smoke detectors that blink the lights and shake the bed.
The best tool at your disposal, though, is your ability to communicate with others even as you struggle to hear what they say to you. Talk to the people in your life and tell them what is going on. The most effective way to triumph over a hearing loss is to see it for what it is — a challenge and then develop a strategy to meet it head-on.