Often as you get older, there is a complaint by your husband that your soft voice is a problem. Conversations often are misunderstood or parts of what you said are missed. This can become a bone of contention between you. It may be a simple problem like ear wax, hearing loss or both. If you are on the young side of middle age, hearing loss can still be a problem.
Here are some facts that may encourage you to get the problem diagnosed and treated. The information in this article comes from the recent visit to our ENT specialist.
Facts about hearing loss:
Some 12 million people seek medical attention for impacted earwax. One is three people over 60 have hearing loss. 50% of those over 85 have loss of hearing. No wonder there are so many misunderstandings that occur in relationships.
Why do we get ear wax in our ears? Ear wax is produced by glands. Ear wax is a self cleaning process that prevents bugs, dirt, and bacteria from gaining entrance into the internal ear. It also helps maintain the acid balance in the ear and gives protection from infection. This self-cleaning protection mechanism works well most of the time.
When too much ear wax is produced it can become hardened in the ear or coat the ear drum with a layer of wax. When this occurs, it prevents sound waves from reaching the inner ear or sound is not heard properly. Hearing is then muffled so that speech is partially or completely missed. The impaction of ear wax may cause dizziness, loss of balance, pain, and discomfort including ringing. Impacted ear wax may cause you to cough. It’s the body’s way to help you to expel it.
What is the best way to get it out? Our doctor spent an hour giving my husband direction on how to keep the ear free of excessive ear wax. When you shampoo your hair, let the shampoo cover the outside of your ears as well. Then when you wash your hair, some shampoo residue will be washed inside your ear and washed out again. That helps to dissolve any excess wax. When you get out of the shower, then dry out the entrance of your ears.
Never use a Q-tip or any thing else in your ear canal. Q-tips can pack and push the wax further in. You can perforate your ear drum as well. Don’t let anyone touch your ears, unless they have a microscope. I was fascinated how the doctor cleaned out the wax with a special instrument that acted as a camera as well. It showed him where the wax was and exactly how he was progressing in the removal progress. It was not painful to my husband.
Why should I go to a doctor when home kits are available? When my husband used the home kit, he pushed the glob of ear wax deep down into his ear. He ended up in pain with severe ringing and problems in balance. This resulted in an emergency trip to the ENT doctor. Some people do seem to get relief from putting a few drops of ear oil into the ear on a regular basis which helps dissolve the wax.
The Importance of the hearing test: Your hearing should be tested after the cleaning procedure is done. There can be hearing loss as well. That is what my husband discovered. He is on the young side of middle age so he could not conceive he could have any hearing loss. He was convinced it was my soft, higher pitched voice that was the problem. I felt strongly it was not. After a hearing test, it was determined he did have some hearing loss. One ear had significant loss and the other was borderline. This hearing loss caused consonants to be lost as well as other sounds. It certainly answered the question on why often when I said one word, he heard another. The hearing loss was enough to warrant a hearing aid. My husband was not happy with the news. We were both relieved to know what was happening in our conversations.
Why hearing properly is so important: Untreated hearing loss causes problems in lost conversation, misinterpreted conversation, and misunderstandings. It is important to your happiness as a couple, to correctly hear what it said. People may stop talking to you, because you constantly ask them to repeat everything they say. You may miss out on key information in both your business and personal life. It could cost you money or contracts in your business. If nothing else, it is a constant irritation to your loved ones when conversation is constantly not heard correctly or not heard at all. When one has to repeat conversation constantly, it makes for strained conversation. So much of life is lost with hearing loss.
How to get your spouse to get their hearing tested? That is not often easy. In my husband’s case, he ended up going because of pain and dizziness due to the wax impaction. It is wise to stress to your spouse that you both will be happier with improved communication. You need to know what the problem is before it can be fixed. Sometimes a serious discussion needs to be entered into with more than gentle pressure. Sometimes it is a case of wills. If it turns out that your soft voice is the only problem, then you will have to make an effort to speak in a lower tone. You will have to make sure you are close enough to be heard. That will be necessary if it turns out to be hearing loss as well.
Why do people resist getting a hearing aide? It has to do most frequently with the concept of the old hearing aid technology and the image we have of hearing aids. Hearing aids are an icon representing that we are not as young as once were. They may make us feel like we are getting older. These negative and limiting views cause us to resist even getting our hearing tested: You may hear your loved one say that hearing aids are just for the elderly and I am not old; Hearing aids are unsightly and don’t work anyway; I am too young to have hearing loss; It’s not my problem but the way people speak. I do not have a problem period. All these views prevent the identification and treatment of the problem. In many cases it is just ear wax. The effect is the same, hearing loss and communication problems with your family and friends.
Hearing loss….Great new technology in hearing aids in 2010: The doctor then explained that my husband’s hearing loss was a candidate for a hearing aide. Not all hearing problems can be solved with a hearing aid. We both had the vision of hearing aids from the past. The old style hearing aids were big, very noticeable, uncomfortable, painful at times, and ineffective. They were lost quite frequently, noisy, and most people ended up not using them. The other problem is that they are expensive and not often covered by insurance.
There is great new technology and design with today’s hearing aids. They are small, fit into the ear with little discomfort and are designed to blend in with the face. They have fixed the problems of noise and chatter. They are designed so they don’t fall out and go unnoticed by most people. They have hearing aids that can be used by surfers and with IPODs. I was really shocked by the new technology and the needed advancements in the design. Don’t fail to get your ears tested because of the old, ineffective technology. Hearing aids have changed in remarkable ways.
Hearing is one of the beautiful senses we have from listening to the water in a brook, the ocean waves, and the communication we need in both pleasure and business. So much of life is lost when we don’t hear properly. Don’t keep missing out on the beauty of life and the beauty of words that exist between the people we love. Get your hearing tested and if there is a problem, take care of it.