Well, That’s an Odd Sound I’m Hearing

With May being Better Speech and Hearing month, it is a great opportunity to take note of your hearing health and any unusual sounds you may experience.

There are a wide variety of noises from within the ear that can suddenly “appear” and cause concern — even bafflement. If they persist for an extended period of time — especially ringing, which might be tinnitus — then seek professional attention. But some noises are basically the auditory equivalent of sneezing or coughing.

If a crackling sound develops in one of your ears, then it might have to do with your Eustachian tube. This is a passage between the back of your nose and the inner ear that is crucial in maintaining equalized pressure in your ears. It actually opens whenever you blow your nose, yawn, or swallow — so it stays pretty busy. Without this, your eardrum might wear out due to dealing with pressure changes constantly.

But if it gets clogged up, usually due to an allergy or cold, then it gets kind of sticky and doesn’t work quite as efficiently. That’s what makes that sound — which can be rather annoying. The condition will usually dissipate on its own but nasal sprays can also be an effective treatment if it’s really annoying you.

Another rather impressive piece of the anatomy is the tiny tensor tympani muscle. It reacts to sudden loud noises and actually tamps down their impact on the rest of the ear. It also squelches the volume on your chewing and the sound of your own voice. But sometimes the muscle can spasm and cause a low rumble. There are even some people who can control this intentionally.

Finally, wax buildup in the ears can cause a number of sounds, including ringing and buzzing. Sometimes there’s so much in there that it comes into contact with the eardrum (throwing off its calibration). But if you think you have earwax causing a problem that deep in your ear, don’t try to dig it out. Have a medical professional handle it in order to avoid damaging your eardrum.

Any changes in your hearing should be evaluated by a hearing professional. Contact us today for a comprehensive hearing evaluation.

 

The Bottom Line Cost of Untreated Hearing Loss

Hearing loss that goes untreated is not just a quality-of-life issue. It can be a financial one too.

The Better Hearing Institute (BHI) conducted a survey that found that individuals with more minor hearing issues that they did not rectify saw a decrease in income. And people with more significant hearing issues that weren’t treated were unemployed at twice the rate as people without hearing issues.

It’s hard to imagine any job that doesn’t demand communication skills. And poor hearing will obviously cause issues in most cases.

With the trend of hearing issues cropping up earlier in life for many people, this is an issue that will become more significant in human resource departments and for individual workers. In fact, most of the 40 million Americans who have hearing issues are still working. Estimates are that 10 percent of the workforce has some problem with their hearing.

In addition, the trend is also for older people to stay in the workforce at higher rates than just a few decades ago.

The BHI study also showed that effective treatment curtailed the economic impact of hearing loss. Workers with mild hearing loss who got hearing aids saw the downward effect on their incomes cut by 90 to 100 percent. A reduction of 65–77 percent was found for those with severe to moderate hearing loss.

These trends — along with the fact that some jobs expose workers to extreme noise environments — will mean that recognizing and treating hearing loss will probably become a more normalized part of the work environment. It is in the interest of both employers and employees to proactively deal with this issue.