What Did You Say?

Know when to get a hearing test and how to keep your hearing healthy.

It’s not unusual to experience hearing loss as we age, but hearing loss impacts people of all ages. After all, we are surrounded by sound every day, nearly all the time. Over time, all those everyday sounds—your alarm clock jarring you awake, the music you listen to on your cell phone, the weed whacker you use to tidy up your lawn—can nibble away at your ability to hear. Here’s what you need to know to keep your hearing healthy.

Protect Your Ears

“I tell patients if you’re getting ready to do something and you think that I maybe would want you to put hearing protection in, like ear plugs, then yes, I do want you to,’” said Jennifer Muehlebach, audiologist at CHI St. Joseph Health.

The best thing to do is to wear ear protection appropriate for the situation. Foam earplugs, for example, work well for mowing the lawn, but won’t provide enough protection if you’re using a power saw or hunting.

“If you’re not sure what type of ear protection is the best for the activity you’re doing, check the product’s noise reduction rating,” Muehlebach said. “The riskier the behavior—like hunting—the higher the rating you want to have.”

Stop Putting Off That Hearing Test

To prevent additional hearing loss, you should get your hearing tested as soon
as you start feeling you can’t hear well in noisy places. Unfortunately, most people wait many years after they begin noticing hearing loss before they finally get their hearing tested, according to Muehlebach.

Testing is simple: You’ll wear headphones and listen for sounds, then push a button when you hear them. You may also have to repeat a series of words.

Hearing aids are the only solution today for most typical hearing loss, Muehlebach said. She recommends them based on the degree of hearing loss and on the impact that loss is having on a person.

“Over-the-counter hearing amplification devices don’t help most people,” she said. “They are like having a microphone in your ear. A true hearing aid is a sophisticated tool that is programmed specifically to your hearing loss and for reducing things like background noise to make hearing clearer.”

Using Earbuds? Don’t Do It

It seems like everyone uses earbuds—for talking on cell phones, listening to music or watching videos—but sending that concentrated sound directly into your eardrum is not a good idea.

If you are going to use earbuds, according to Jennifer Muehlebach, audiologist at CHI St. Joseph Health, watching your volume is critical.

Keep the sound down. It’s better for your hearing to wear over-the-ear headphones. Better yet, wear those headphones around your neck with the volume up or use a personal desktop speaker.


Interested in scheduling a hearing test? Call CHI St. Joseph ENT Associates at 979-680-8808.