Deaf as a postBy: Dokta Who (Sep 19 2022)
I spotted the two guys together, smiling and cruising a quiet corner of the bar. Two great guys, people that lots of you know well, two mature guys I’ve seen get stiff as a post. I walked over to join the fun. I could hear their conversation from 10 feet away. They weren’t talking, they were shouting. Stiff as a post, sure, but just as deaf.
- People over 50 are likely to lose some hearing each year.
- About one-third of people over 65 have hearing problems.
- Only one in five of the Australians who need a hearing aid has one.
I thought carefully about what I’d seen in the bar: the first guy had turned his head to one side as the other spoke. When the other guy went quiet, he in turn had put his side to one side so he could hear the first guy’s response. That’s a classic sign of hearing loss.
As I began to write this article, I also thought about what I had not seen in the quiet bar: there was only a handful of mature age guys present. Many of the guys who might have been there were perhaps home listening to television.
Two more classic signs: people with impaired hearing avoid social situations where noise can make it difficult to hear conversation; they also turn TV up to a volume that disturbs others.
Another significant sign is asking other people to repeat what they’ve said, or to ‘speak up’. The year-by-year loss of hearing that starts around age 50 for most people is often due to changes in the inner ear, the location of two of the body’s most delicate structures: the organ of hearing called the cochlea, and the labyrinth of nerves that controls our sense of balance. Just as hair turns grey at different ages and at different rates, so it goes with this condition, which is called Presbycusis.
Inner eye damage can also arrive suddenly: high blood pressure can be a cause, so can poor blood circulation; even a routine illness may cause problems, and so can some medications. If you’ve had a stroke or a head injury, that also might be your problem.
Hearing problems also come from fluid in the middle ear or a middle ear infection. And of course you do use sterile cotton buds regularly to clear the built-up wax from the ear canal!
Be very sensible about all this: the federally-funded organisation called Australian Hearing is a great place to get started. Their Web site is www.hearing.com.au. If you want to assess your hearing, the site includes a Hearing Health Check. Tick Yes or No to eight questions and submit the form. An assessment will flash back quickly.
Remember that you can get free access to the Web at any public library – the staff are trained and willing to help. Any GP can do a basic hearing check and explain the options. Aged pensioners are well cared for by Australian Hearing. Under the federal benefits scheme, for example, the batteries you need for a hearing aid cost only $31.50 a year. Even if you live alone, even if you no longer go to the movies, surely you’ll always want to hear the birds singing in the trees?