Is My Hearing Loss Getting Worse?

I fear my hearing is getting worse. Since the summer ended, I have been having a harder time following conversations. I more often mishear questions asked by store employees. I stare blankly at the waiter when he is reading the specials. I have also become more sensitive to loud noises like announcements over loudspeakers and trucks barreling up Third Avenue. I am having more trouble hearing my husband and daughter.

Maybe it is just an adjustment period as I settle back into my post-summer life. Rather than days of listening to the wind blowing in trees and the silence of the country, I am back in the city with its constant energy and background noise. Instead of lazy days by the pool, I am busy on conference calls and in meetings. Maybe I am just out of practice such that my hearing loss exhaustion is having a greater impact.

Living With Hearing Loss | A Hearing Los Blog

This has happened before. Every year or so I feel my hearing loss take a dip. This can be brought on by a head cold or frequent air travel. In these cases it is typically temporary and accompanied by an increase in my tinnitus.

But other times the loss is more permanent. I have my annual hearing tests to prove it. Since my first audiogram, my hearing loss has slipped from mild across the board to a moderate loss in the low and speech-range frequencies.

My hearing loss is genetic so I have some idea about the progression my hearing loss may take over time. Unfortunately, the only audiogram I have from my father is one from when he was around 60 years old. His speech range loss was moderate/severe at the time, and his loss in the high pitches was severe. Is this what awaits me? That would be a drastic change given my strong high pitch hearing today.

Alas, there is not much I can do about it other than to continue to develop my communication skills — practicing lipreading, seeking out accommodations as needed, and advocating for better acceptance for people with hearing loss. This way I will be as prepared as possible to continue to thrive no matter what my audiogram throws at me.

The good news is that hearing loss assistive technology gets better every day and scientific research in the field also continues to advance. Despite my fear, I am optimistic that I will have better tools at my disposal to cope with whatever comes my way. Fingers crossed.

Readers, do you ever worry that your hearing loss is getting worse?

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29 thoughts on “Is My Hearing Loss Getting Worse?

  1. I know my hearing loss is getting worse. Mine is also genetic in my 1 working ear. My mother & my aunt had hearing aids when they were in their 30’s…back in the 1960’s when they were not attractive pieces of equipment. My mother refused to wear hers. My aunt has always worn hers & was much more active in the community than my mother.

    I guess it’s time for my annual exam. I wonder how much closer I am to slipping into the severe category?

  2. I worry about it all the time. I have only one ear that functions with a hearing aid while the other side is adjusting to a recent CI. Over the years I have had to move up to more powerful HAs as my hearing became worse.

    What you are reporting, Shari, is worthy of careful monitoring. Yes, it may be a passing situation and it may be a permanent change. I remember you saying you wear HAs that remain installed, which means they are small and probably not as powerful as larger external units. So you may have the chance to take advantage of the growing technology as the need arrises. Take your own advise and stay on top of it. Keep us posted.

  3. YES!!!!!! I totally feel that way. And it’s true, my hearing has slipped from mild to moderate in my right ear and from normal to mild in my left. WHAT IS HAPPENING!?!?!?!?!!!!!

  4. Shari,
    I enjoy your blog and read it more often than I comment, just wanted you to know!

    Reading your blog today made me remember when the same thing happened to me. Since I had severe/profound hearing loss (from nerve damage, but also hereditary) and it was getting worse . . .

    When I woke up in the morning, before I put my hearing aids, I could hear my husband speaking. But, almost suddenly, that wasn’t possible. I had to put my hand on his jaw and feel his voice through vibration to figure out what he said. I’m a good lip reader, but not perfect, and without hearing aids, feeling sound through his jaw had become necessary.

    I feared waking up one morning with no sound because I didn’t know any sign language then it was terrifying. I had read about an oil they discuss in this blog Helichrysum Italicum, or Everlasting, Immortelle (yes, it’s great for your face too). It’s a flower they make essential oil from. L’Occitane uses it in their expensive facial moisturizers and serums.

    I applied it behind my ears, in front of my ears, around the edge, and down from the ear as if draining in the neck. I applied to the back of my neck hairline, and also to my two smallest toes on each foot. I also applied it to the big toe. My audiologist had explained my hearing loss concerned the brain and the ears, and the big toe corresponds to brain nerve endings.

    Within 30 minutes, I heard my air purifier for the first time. It was right next to me and for three months, I thought it was soundless!

    Over two months, I heard new sounds every day. I regained the ability to hear which direction a plane was approaching from, and to recognize new music (it had stopped making sense before the Helichrysum). Your car radio volume is a good test–and I went from volume 14 (which is pretty loud in that car) to volume 8 being comfortable. I regained the ability to hear outside the room I was in. Not clearly with words, but I knew when someone was washing dishes across the house! That hadn’t been possible in the 15 years I’d lived in that house . . . until after Helichrysum. I also gained levels of music. Songs I thought I knew gained new parts and instruments!

    I had my hearing tested before and after, and the difference was 10 decibels gained, plus I gained a “hole” in my hearing range for both ears. On the audiogram before, there was nothing in one spot for both ears. I wondered if that was why I lost the ability to understand music then. At first my audiologist seemed skeptical, but after a third hearing test, she asked me what I was using and listened well to my answer!

    I’ve since let people use my Helichrysum, and both were pleased with the results. (For one person, let’s just say I prayed thank you God for letting this happen.)

    I used the brand Aura Cacia Helichrysum Essential Oil mixed with Jojoba Oil, which is a cheap way to try it, because undiluted, it’s usually around $100 a bottle (it takes tons of flowers to make the oil). Aura Cacia’s diluted blend is about $15 and they sell it online and at many health food stores where they sell essential oils.

    I blended about 4 drops of Helichrysum with a teaspoon of emu oil, and stirred it around in a circle with my finger. I used emu oil because I’d read it penetrated more levels of skin and since then, I believe emu oil makes the Helichrysum support my hearing better. Wash your hands after you use it, because it can dry out your eye if you get some near your eye, easily remedied by using eye drops.

    This expensive little oil works quite well diluted. It’s incredibly powerful.

    By the way, one of the oils they mention in the blog post I provided the link for is Helichrysum Blend, which is from a great company, Hopewell Oils. It smells heavenly, but the blend, which is created to substitute the more expensive Helichrysum essential oil, didn’t give me any results. Aura Cacia did work for me, and of course, later I bought full-strength Helichrysum essential oil and blend that at home myself with jojoba and emu oils.

    If you research “Helichrysum Italicum testimonials” or “Helichrysum Italicum hearing loss” on Google, or even search with just “Helichrysum testimonials,” “Helichrysum hearing loss,” and you’ll find many answers and YouTube has some videos showing how people apply it.

    Maybe Helichrysum works like a vitamin in the ear, or a detox. A side effect was I had one of the most allergy-free seasons of my life and the skin of the hand where I mix it is noticeably younger, fairer, less freckled, and less dry than the other.

    Like many people will tell you, Never put essential oils IN your ears. They are far too strong! These are not like olive oil. No. Much, much stronger. Instead, use outside and around the ear. If it works for you, you would notice in a few days, applying twice a day. Everyone who tried it that I know had results within two days. One within 30 minutes, like I did. She said she wasn’t having trouble hearing me over traffic like she usually would and kept staring at me in shock.

    Each of our hearing is different, and Helichrysum has given far more results to others than to me, but I hope this will provide some relief for some of you, maybe a little boost to feel better. When we have hearing loss, we get used to adapting to the world with what we have, and losing more presents a lot of unwelcome challenges with no solutions from our doctors but new hearing aids.

    • Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts. I have not seen any easy fix for hearing loss that really works, but I wish you luck with your methods. Best of luck to you!

  5. Like you, Shari, I worry about my ever-deteriorating, inherited hearing loss. In the ten years since my initial diagnosis, I have gone from a mid/moderate loss to a moderate to severe loss. I don’t need to wonder much about where I might bottom out as my father was profoundly deaf in his early 80s. I take comfort in the knowledge that hearing technology is always improving and I may be a candidate for cochlear implants in the future. I also try to advocate for myself and others withhearing loss. I have found attending my local HLAA chapter meetings to be tremendously helpful. It’s great to be amongst others who know just what I’m going through!

  6. Shari:

    Keeping on top of it is the secret for it will probably get worse. Mine has, and it seems associated with a slowing down of the processing that goes on between sound and brain seeking meaning. Research is aware of this, but I have not yet heard of any way for hearing aids to cope with this. Advances are being made to improve hearing aids against competing sounds, especially background noises. But it’s slow work. Meanwhile we sometimes forget hearing through hearing aids is not like hearing through our ears – which can filter out meaningless and unwanted noises. Our hearing aids hear them all 🙂 So patience is important and slowing down the pace of a speech interaction helps too. We can control that if we remain calm and confident. Let’s keep reminding one another 🙂

  7. I live with a person whose hearing has been slipping, slipping, slipping. I’m a close-up observer of the ups and downs–emotional as well as physical. He’s now got “technical assistance” in both ears–he wants to hear his grandchildren, whose voices are, of course, reedy and thin. I’m beginning to find them a little harder to hear, yoo. It’s not my favorite thing about aging but, like you, patience, perspective, understanding what’s happening to you in particular [not to others] is the best way forward. Help is out there and getting better all the time..

  8. Don’t panic! There is hope. Over 45 years, my hearing loss has progressed from moderate to profound. Every time my hearing gets worse, the technology in hearing aids and assistive devices gets better. The progress in the last ten years had been amazing! The most important thing is to work with an audiologist who understands your needs, knows the technology and can help you adjust as your hearing gets worse. Good luck!

  9. I felt exactly the same but my audiogram is fairly static which is good news. The audio(not my usual lady) suggested my brain was slowing down ! She went on to say that because I rely on my brain so much to hear ,the natural aging process of the brain means it is slower to work it all out. Gulp !

    • Gulp is right, but it is also probably true. Glad to hear that your audiogram is stable. The good news is that the technology available to help only gets better. Thanks for sharing your story.

  10. I’m in my early 30s and suffered a hearing loss earlier this year due to encephalitis. My hearing has been stabile and my ENT has indicates it should be stabile until normal age-related hearing loss sinks in. My hearing loss is moderate in the lower frequencies. While hearing aids help, I still struggle with background noise and hearing others who are on cell phones. I just hope the technology will advance enough that I will be able to compensate when I get older and deafer…

    • Thanks for sharing your story. Hearing aid technology continues to advance rapidly. We all have our fingers crossed that this will continue. Best of luck to you!

    • Tony:

      I think we who are losing our hearing at greater speed than the average can be helped by taking a lead from the Paralympians. Quite clearly they show us that winning is not the goal in life – only one person can win a race – but what matters is keeping on trying, keeping in the game. When growing up we easily accept our competence with tasks changes with our physical development and as the years go by. Deafness for us is just a continuation of that. It helps to accept it, and adjust our reactions and actions to still keep participating in life. Advances in hearing aids will help but we cannot depend on them. But we can depend on our abilities to adjust to changing circumstances. It also helps ageing well to maintain ourselves in good health – exercise and the food we eat. So du courage and keep on keeping on 🙂

      • Thanks – I am still grappling with accepting my new reality. I have no choice, but to keep going as I have two little ones at home who need their daddy. In time I suppose it will be easier.

  11. I also am slowly getting worse. But I also think that this time of year, I hear a little less due to nasal congestion and allergies. The ear doctor thinks that because of the severity of my hearing loss, I am more aware of any additional loss due to congestion. Since there is no objective way other than an audiogram to measure how well we hear this week versus last week, it’s impossible to tell. So I use decongestants and nasal sprays this time of year.

  12. Hi

    I think my hearing is getting a little worse than it was. I’ve known that it will as it’s a genetic loss that’s in my late father’s side of our family. All my male precedents ended up profoundly deaf in old age.

    I’m conscious of the fact that I am now ramping up the volume setting on my hearing aids to a louder setting in most situations where I could hear fine on the default setting the aids went to when I put them on.

    I’m also relying more on my pretty basic lip reading skills than I ever used to do.

    Apart from thinking about getting tested again, I’m wondering about learning British Sign Language while I can still hear reasonably well.


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