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Hearing Loss and Quality of Life

Transcript

LtCol Beth Harrison, USAF

Hearing is an absolutely critical component of communication in terms of getting your job done and performing the mission.

LTC (RET) Eric Fallon, AuD, USA, CCC-A

We in the military are very focused on the impact of hearing loss and hearing-related issues on job performance.

Lynn W. Henselman, PhD

If you incur hearing loss at a very young age, through your military service, it has long-term consequences.

LTC (RET) Eric Fallon, AuD, USA, CCC-A

Perhaps the greatest tragedy is that long-term effect of hearing loss on quality of life.

Col Mark Packer, MD, USAF

Hearing is oftentimes overlooked as an invisible injury; it doesn’t bleed and oftentimes it doesn’t hurt.

CDR Joel Bealer, USN

It’s unfortunate because it sneaks up on you over time, and by the time you notice the hearing loss, the damage is already done.

COL (RET) Kathy Gates, AuD, USA

Hearing loss has a significant impact on family, relationships, and quality of life.

CDR Joel Bealer, USN

We are social animals; we rely on communication with loved ones, with friends, with peers.

Col Mark Packer, MD, USAF

The quality of life largely depends on the people near and dear to us.

LTC Kristen Casto, USA

Hearing allows you to communicate verbally, and verbal communication is very often the foundation of relationships.

Col Mark Packer, MD, USAF

Sitting around the table with extended family, you know, those are pleasurable moments.

CDR Joel Bealer, USN

You’ve all seen this at family get-togethers. Grandpa sitting in the corner with the newspaper, pretending to read it for the fourteenth time because he can’t understand or talk to anybody.

Col Mark Packer, MD, USAF

They don’t feel a part of the crowd; they don’t feel as connected, and so it’s isolating.

LtCol Beth Harrison, USAF

They may withdraw from their family members, which can in turn affect the whole family, and just the health and wellness of that family unit.

Col Mark Packer, MD, USAF

So when we don’t hear and we can’t communicate and we can’t participate in the world around us, it’s a big effect.

LTC (RET) Eric Fallon, AuD, USA, CCC-A

It doesn’t take very much hearing loss to really make you feel isolated and to realize that you’re not following the conversation because you really are missing too much information. And you nod, and you laugh, and you do what we all do; and you want everyone to think that you’re following the conversation, but you just are not.

COL (RET) Kathy Gates, AuD, USA

Most likely the individual is not aware of the hearing loss, its usually the family members or close friends that become aware of the hearing problems before the individual.

Maj Jeff Wisneski, AuD, USAF

And when that happens, that can have serious consequences on how you function in your job and in your home environment.

MAJ Ernesto Perez, USA

Hearing loss can make everyone vulnerable.

Maj Jeff Wisneski, AuD, USAF

It is extremely important to be able to hear the alarms or smoke detectors.

Col Mark Packer, MD, USAF

My father was driving in the car with my mom, and the brakes were squealing and he had no idea that he’d been driving for months with metal on metal. And when my mom drove with him she could hear that high-pitched squeal and was able to talk to him about the effect of hearing. And it was truly a safety issue.

LTC (RET) Eric Fallon, AuD, USA, CCC-A

It still shocks me how much trouble I have hearing, especially if I get into a group conversation, such as a restaurant, and there’s any type of background noise. I always say that 90 percent of the time I have absolutely no idea what someone is saying, and that’s very frustrating from a personal perspective.

COL (RET) Kathy Gates, AuD, USA

Hearing loss has been linked to depression.

LTC Kristen Casto, USA

It’s linked to anger, and cognitive decline.

COL (RET) Kathy Gates, AuD, USA

Fatigue, increased anxiety.

LTC Kristen Casto, USA

So those kinds of things will affect relationships with others when there’s frustration on family member’s parts, not being able to communicate and vice versa.

COL (RET) Kathy Gates, AuD, USA

But the important thing to be aware of, once you have the hearing loss, it’s permanent.

LTC (RET) Eric Fallon, AuD, USA, CCC-A

Because once you get to the point where you have permanent hearing loss, now the options of treatment are very, very limited.

COL (RET) Kathy Gates, AuD, USA

You can see an audiologist, have an evaluation, and from the evaluation they can determine whether or not you would benefit from hearing aids.

COL Vicki Tuten, AuD, USA

It’s amazing the things that they can do with hearing aids these days and the benefit that people are receiving from them.

LTC Kristen Casto, USA

However, one needs to be educated on the effects of noise and how they can prevent the hearing loss in the first place.

LtCol Beth Harrison, USAF

It’s very important that everybody take individual responsibility for their own hearing health to ensure that you have an intact hearing mechanism. It’s not just going to affect your job, you need it in order to communicate and live a full and happy life.

Lynn W. Henselman, PhD

Hear to live.

About Us

The Hearing Center of Excellence fosters and promotes the prevention, diagnosis, mitigation, treatment, rehabilitation and research of hearing loss and auditory injury. It supports the development, exchange and adoption of best practices, research, measures of effectiveness and clinical care guidelines to reduce the prevalence and cost of hearing loss and tinnitus among Warriors and Veterans. Read more

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