For an avid hunter, pondering the question, “Do I need hearing aids”, can feel like a bit of a nightmare. After all, a major component of the success of the hunt is being able to hear the subtle sounds of an animal in the stillness of the wild. Does hearing loss mean the loss of your hunting career?
There are two things to address here. First, do you need hearing aids. There are a handful of signs to watch for that would suggest you would benefit from hearing aids; we’ll address those below. Second, if you should happen to need hearing aids, your hunting career doesn’t have to come to an abrupt halt; technology has come a long way. Let’s talk about those signs of hearing loss and how the hunt can live on should you need them.
Seriously, Do I Need Hearing Aids?
Our ears are amazing structures. Through a series of intricate and complex steps, they turn sound waves into electrical signals that our brains translate into sounds we can comprehend. Even more amazingly, this process involves tiny wave-riding hairs and an ear snail (we’re not joking — check it out).
With all of the biological participants responsible for our hearing, damage to even one of them can leave you hearing less optimally than before and have you asking, “do I need hearing aids.” Damage to the components of your outer, middle, or inner ear can affect your hearing differently and lead to different types of hearing loss..
Types of Hearing Loss
There are three prominent types of hearing loss that result from a handful of reasons. Those three types of hearing loss are:
- Sensorineural Hearing Loss. This type of hearing loss occurs when parts of the inner ear or the hearing nerve are damaged. The most common type of hearing loss, it can result from aging, exposure to loud noise, injury, disease, certain drugs, or an inherited condition. Though often not medically treatable, this type of hearing loss can benefit greatly from hearing aids.
- Conductive Hearing Loss. This type of hearing loss has to do with sound waves being unable to travel to the inner ear. This can be caused by obstructions such as earwax or a foreign object in the outer ear, fluid build-up, infection, or a bone abnormality in the middle ear, or as a result of damage to the eardrum. Most common in children who suffer from frequent ear infections and who explore their ears with foreign objects, this type of hearing loss is often medically treatable.
- Mixed Hearing Loss. As it sounds, this type of hearing loss is a combination of both sensorineural and conductive hearing loss. This most often occurs when someone with sensorineural hearing loss incurs additional components of conductive hearing loss.
Signs of Hearing Loss
If you’re wondering, “do I need hearing aids”, it’s helpful to know that hearing loss tends to come on slowly as we age. Sometimes, however, it can occur suddenly in which case you should contact your doctor as soon as possible. You can take our free online hearing test to assess where your hearing stands. In the meantime, here are a few common signs of hearing loss:
- Social Struggles. Feeling like people are mumbling or talking too quietly. Frequently asking people to repeat themselves. Having difficulty understanding someone when you can’t see their face.
- Technological Frustrations. Unable to understand people over the phone. Turning your TV volume up much louder than others like. Having trouble following the dialogue in a movie.
- Character Abnormalities. Finding yourself more easily irritated. Feeling less patient in normal situations. Opting to be more withdrawn in social situations.
How Can Hearing Aids Help Me?
Unlike tooth implants that give you teeth and eyeglasses that enable your eyes to see, hearing aids don’t fix your hearing. Rather, as the name implies, they serve as an aid in your hearing.
Different parts of your inner ear are responsible for turning certain pitched sound waves into the electrical signals that are sent to your brain for processing. (ClevelandClinic) If one of those parts of your inner ear is damaged, your ability to hear the pitches associated with it will be greatly diminished giving you a good reason to ask, “do I need hearing aids”.
The advanced technology of hearing aids is able to amplify the pitches the damaged ear is no longer able to hear on its own. While your ear may remain damaged, you’ll still be able to hear the full spectrum of sounds with the support of hearing aids.
There’s one catch. While hearing aids provide amazing support, their technology hasn’t come so far as to be able to process sounds as well as an undamaged auditory system. Background noises will be amplified in the same way voices are, potentially causing some continued difficulty with communication. Here are some helpful communication strategies to help you overcome this remaining hurdle.
Can I Still Hunt with Hearing Aids?
Ask any audiologist and they will tell you that it’s unsafe to fire a firearm while wearing hearing aids. And they’re right. Standard hearing aids are unable to respond quickly enough to protect your ears from the explosive sound of a gunshot. The microphone in the hearing aid will be overloaded by the sound and “deliver every decibel to our inner ear.” (Hear)
It’s not all bad news for hunters asking, “do I need hearing aids”. While standard hearing aids aren’t a wise choice for hunting, there are more specialized devices you can use. Electronic ear plugs and specialist hunting hearing aids, though not as effective for everyday use, will protect your ears while still allowing you to hear the sounds you need to hear. Ask your doctor about these options and find one that’s right for you.
Navigate Hearing Loss with The Hearing Place Experts
Pondering the question “do I need hearing aids” can feel like a life-altering thought, but it doesn’t have to be. The experts at The Hearing Place can help you navigate through this transition and find the support that fits your hearing needs. Hearing aids aren’t the end of life as you know it; they’re a tool that enables you to continue enjoying it.
Schedule an appointment with one of our hearing experts and continue to live the life you love.