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Can’t Hear as Well as You Used To?

By April 27, 2009 Hearing Loss

The painless process of hearing loss develops gradually over a period of years, and that’s why sometimes the last person to realize the problem is the person suffering from it. Often times, it’s the people living with the person with hearing loss that realizes there’s a problem, because the television is turned up loud or they find themselves repeating things especially when there’s background noise.

But, there’s no cause for alarm, says board certified otolaryngologist [Ear, Nose & Throat specialist] Dr. Ted Benke.

“If you have any of these symptoms, you may have nothing more serious than impacted wax or an ear infection, which might be simply corrected,” he said. “On the other hand, it might be hearing loss from noise exposure.”

Benke said one in 10 people in the US has a hearing loss that affects his ability to understand normal speech and excessive noise is the most common cause.

“If it is loud enough and lasts long enough, noise exposure can definitely damage your hearing,” he said. “As the exposure time to loud noise increases, more and more nerve endings are destroyed, and as the number of nerve endings decreases, so does your hearing.

“The sad part is that there’s no way to restore the dead nerve endings; the damage is permanent.”

But, Benke said there’s a way to prevent hearing loss from noise before it occurs, and that’s by wearing ear protectors.

“We make custom hearing protection,” Benke said. “One person may do fine with foam earplugs; for others, we could take an ear mold impression and make custom silicone earplugs that would provide the maximum NRR [noise reduction ratio].”

He said hearing protection devices decrease the intensity of sound that reaches the eardrum and they come in two forms, earplugs or earmuffs.

Earplugs are small inserts that fit into the outer ear canal, but to be effective they must block the ear canal with an airtight fit. They are available in a variety of shapes and sizes to fit individual ear canals and can be custom fit.

Earmuffs fit over the entire ear to form an air seal so the entire circumference of the ear canal is blocked and they are held in place by an adjustable band.

Properly sealed earplugs or earmuffs reduce noise 15-30 decibels, and the use of a dual combination of earplugs and muffs add another 10 decibels of protection.

If you or someone you love needs ear protection to avoid long-term hearing loss or are experiencing hearing loss, call Benke Ear, Nose & Throat Clinic today for a complete hearing evaluation.

Benke is a Board Certified otolaryngologist with over 12 years of experience in occupational hearing programs. For five years, he served in the USAF working with audiologists and flight surgeons in the area of hearing protection. Since opening Benke Ear, Nose & Throat Clinic in Cleburne in 2000, Benke has worked with several area companies to help them manage their hearing conservation programs. They offer hearing testing, fitting of hearing protective devices and diagnosis and treatment of acute and chronic hearing loss and tinnitus.

For more information on how your company can begin a hearing conservation program or for a free consultation, call Benke Ear, Nose & Throat Clinic at 817-641-3750. Their office is located in the Walls Professional Building at 203 Walls Drive, Suite 101, next to the Texas Health Cleburne.