November 20, 2018. Most of us with hearing loss are used to going to an audiologist for ongoing hearing tests. We’re told it takes about 7 years from the time someone is told they have hearing loss for that person to actually take steps to do something about it. It’s brought up over and over again by audiology professionals that this is a bad thing to do. Your hearing health is important, they will tell you, and of course that’s absolutely correct.
But, what happens when the audiologist becomes the patient or client? Last month, while in Moncton, I had coffee with Dr Heidi Eaton of Argus Audiology. If you attended our Tinnitus Seminar this spring, then you would have met Dr Eaton.
“I now have two hearing aids”, she mentioned. I asked what had changed since we’d met a few months ago. “I noticed I was very sensitive to noise.” Sensitivity to loud sounds even has a term: hyperacusis. As an audiologist, Dr Eaton knew that “sensory hearing loss, caused by the death of hearing cells in the hearing organ called the cochlea, leads to hearing loss, ringing in the ears and can also lead to sensitivity to loud sounds.” Hearing loss runs in her family, but she was hoping there was another explanation.
She went for a hearing test and learned she had hearing loss. As she explained, “I was so surprised by the results I asked my Audiologist to retest me. The results were the same.” It was the moment she realized what her patients must go through: “denial before acceptance”. It gave her more empathy for the journey that patients must take before realizing that hearing loss is now their reality.
Dr Eaton’s candour in relating her experience was very much appreciated. If you wish to read about her experience in her own words, here is the link: https://www.dochearing.com/blog/from-audiologist-to-patient.
Dr Eaton’s explanation on sound sensitivity went a long way to finally explaining to me why certain high pitched sounds sound like I’m being stabbed. The high pitched sounds made by over-excited or upset children in a restaurant, or in an enclosed space like a plane, can make me physically ill. I get the same reaction from the smoke alarm in our house. I used to have a similar reaction from our phone, but now we use a ringtone that doesn’t make me cringe.
If you’d like to read more about how the organization of cells in your inner ear enables the sense and sensitivity of hearing, see this link to an article from the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary: https://search.app.goo.gl/kezVc. The first paragraph gives an excellent summary of the role cells play in our hearing. “The loss of tiny cells in the inner ear, known as “hair cells,” is a leading cause of hearing loss, a public health problem affecting at least one out of three people over the age of 65. Of the two varieties of hair cells, the “outer hair cells” act as micromotors that amplify incoming sound, and the “inner hair cells” act to sense and transmit information about the sound to the brain. Hair cells do not regenerate on their own in human ears, and they can die away from a variety of factors including excessive noise exposure, certain medications, infection and as part of the natural aging process….”
Have you had sensitivity to sounds? If so, please share your experience. Comments can be made on this blog, or you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Don’t miss our upcoming events:
- November Chapter meeting: Tuesday, November 27, 2018 at 9:30 am at North Tryon Presbyterian Church. Guest speaker will be Jessyca Bedard, Clinical Support & Business Development Manager for Oticon Medical Canada, who will talk about BAHAs (Bone Anchored Hearing Aids) and other Oticon products. The presentation will be followed by our Annual General Meeting.
- Presentation: Annie Lee MacDonald and Daria Valkenburg have been invited to talk about the pocket talker project with the Law Foundation of PEI and PEI lawyers at the upcoming meeting of the PEI Seniors Secretariat on November 30, 2018.
Check out our Upcoming Events page for even more events. (See https://theauralreport.wordpress.com/upcoming-events/)
© Daria Valkenburg