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.
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?