Ringing in the New Year

Posted Date: 1/8/2020
Posted By: Sommer Brock, AuD
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BellAt the start of a new year, we often find ourselves setting goals and making changes to focus on health and wellness. Joining a gym, starting a diet and working on mental well-being are excellent ways to take better care of yourself. As you decide on which areas you want to work on, have you considered your hearing health? You have likely spent lots of time with family and friends over the past few weeks celebrating the holidays. Think about the following:

  • Were you able to join in on conversations, especially those in background noise?
  • Did you have to ask for repetition or struggle to hear the beautiful music that is played at this time of year?
  • If you had the opportunity to hear better in these situations, would you take it?

The first step in hearing healthcare is to undergo an evaluation by a licensed audiologist. This will involve the audiologist asking questions about your hearing and your hearing history. They will then perform a hearing test in which you will respond when you hear the tones and words presented. The audiologist will go over the results with you and make recommendations. If you have hearing loss, the audiologist will discuss this with you and help you explore options to make the best decision regarding hearing aids. (Audiologists have four years of doctoral training and clinical experience prior to obtaining their degree and license. They understand hearing loss across the lifespan and have in-depth knowledge regarding hearing loss and hearing aids. Service and patient care are very important to them.) 

While ringing in the new year can be such an exciting time, for patients that suffer from tinnitus, ringing is bothersome and has a negative impact on their daily life. Tinnitus can be described as ringing, static, clicking, roaring or any other noise in the ears. Causes of tinnitus include hearing loss, noise exposure and certain medications and medical conditions. Unfortunately, there is no cure for tinnitus. However, there are treatments that can make tinnitus more bearable.

If a patient has hearing loss, hearing aids may be of help. Essentially, they help improve hearing, and since the patient is hearing more sounds, they do not notice their tinnitus as much. Hearing aid manufacturers have also created programs within their hearing aids that play sounds in the background that help the patient’s brain not focus on the tinnitus. When you schedule your hearing evaluation, be sure to mention tinnitus to your audiologist. They are trained to help patients manage their tinnitus.

If a patient has normal hearing, ambient noise from a fan or noise maker may help distract the patient from the tinnitus. There are apps available on most smart devices that play soothing sounds or music that help redirect the patient’s attention from the tinnitus. This is something an audiologist can give advice on.

Whether you are making resolutions or not this New Year, it is always a good time to have your hearing evaluated.