Hearing health can strongly affect many aspects of your personal and professional life. If left untreated, hearing loss can lead to negativey, stress, depression, loneliness and memory problems. This is one of the many reasons why hearing health, though often overlooked, is a very important factor for the human body, and should be checked out with more frequency.
YYC Fitness spoke to Lacey Beierbach, who is a Registered Hearing Instrument Specialist with Bow River Hearing to learn more information on how people can ensure their ears are happy and healthy going forward.
YYC Fitness: How important is hearing health for people, and what are some ways people can be preventative and proactive in regards to the health of their hearing?
Beierbach: Hearing health is just as important as getting our teeth cleaned and our eyes tested. It is recommended that people of all ages have their hearing checked regularly. Since the number one cause of hearing loss is from exposure to loud noises, it is important to limit yourself from loud sounds. Hearing health is also directly linked to many other functions of our body such as our brain health as well as our balance system.
YYC Fitness: How can people get informed about hearing health?
Beierbach: Having your hearing tested is the best way to get educated in hearing health. There are also a few organizations around Calgary and area that provide information and services for those interested in hearing health. A couple are Deaf & Hear Alberta and the Calgary Hard of Hearing Association (CHHA). Bow River Hearing also offers complimentary seminars for those interested in educating themselves.
YYC Fitness: What are some common symptoms of hearing loss?
Beierbach: Asking people to repeat themselves. Leaning into a conversation or placing yourself in a certain area that allows you to hear better. Turning up the volume on your phone or TV. Mental fatigue.
YYC Fitness: Are there different types of hearing loss?
Beierbach: Yes, there are many types of hearing loss. The two most common types of hearing loss are Conductive, which is a hearing loss in the middle ear system (ie. eardrum and bones), and Sensorineural hearing loss takes place in the inner ear, often associated with noise induced hearing loss as well as age related hearing loss. Often times, people ask about the percentage of their hearing loss. Percentage is hard to give a patient simply because they may have normal hearing abilities in the low frequencies, but a hearing loss in the high frequencies.
YYC Fitness: What are the most common causes of hearing loss?
Beierbach: The number one cause of hearing loss is exposure to loud noises. Presbycusis or age-related hearing loss is also common.
YYC Fitness: What are some ways people can prevent hearing loss?
Beierbach: Wear hearing protection. Sitting close to a concert speaker can permanently damage your hearing in only seven minutes. This is why it is so important to have your hearing checked and to wear appropriate hearing protection.
YYC Fitness: Does Calgary’s ever-changing climate and weather patterns affect people’s hearing health?
Beierbach: Since we have such a dry climate, many people in Calgary often find their ears get dry and itchy in the winter time. A specialist or doctor may recommend an eardrop or oil to help with this. Individuals who are exposed to long periods of cold temperatures may develop a condition known as “surfers ear,” or exostosis. My advice is to keep your ears covered in the colder months.
YYC Fitness: What advances have there been in hearing technology?
Beierbach: There have been huge and exciting advancements in hearing aid technology in the last few years. One of the biggest improvements I’ve seen has been the integration of better speech enhancement cues (especially while in background noise). In terms of testing equipment, we are very fortunate to have technology to determine where the hearing loss takes place as well as optimizing hearing aid fittings which allow us to personalize the settings for each individual’s ear (since everyone’s ears are different!) Leaving a hearing loss untreated can cause you to lose 40 per cent of your thinking capabilities.
Interview has been edited for length and continuity.