Genetics of Hearing Loss

Genetics play a major role in hearing loss for people of all ages. The genetics of hearing loss can be a complicated matter, made even more complex by the fact that inherited and acquired hearing loss can co-occur. Inherited hearing loss is the result of genetic mutations, while acquired hearing loss is caused by environmental factors.

Hearing Loss Caused by Genetic Syndromes

cells in a petri dish

Not all cases of hereditary hearing loss are caused by any specific syndrome, but many are. Doctors estimate that there over 300 genetic syndromes that are associated hearing loss. These include:

  • Alport Syndrome
  • Branchio-Oto-Renal Syndrome
  • Goldenhar’s Syndrome
  • Jervell and Lange-Nielsen Syndrome
  • Mohn-Tranebjaerg Syndrome
  • Norrie Disease
  • Pendred Syndrome
  • Stickler Syndrome
  • Treacher Collins Syndrome
  • Waardenburg Syndrome
  • Usher Syndrome

Hearing loss that is associated with another syndrome is called syndromic hearing loss.

Other Causes of Genetic Hearing Loss

Most cases of hearing loss are not associated with a syndrome; these cases are called non-syndromic. Non-syndromic hearing loss is typically caused by recessive genes, meaning both parents are carriers of the gene. Some cases are caused by dominant genes, which means only one parent is a carrier.

About 70 percent of cases of genetic hearing loss are non-syndromic, and 80 percent of these are caused by recessive genes.

Identifying Genetic Hearing Loss

Identifying genetic causes of hearing loss can be tricky and sometimes requires the team of an otolaryngologist (ENT physician), audiologist, geneticist and a genetics counselor.

The otolaryngologist may take a thorough history and physical exam, then make a referral to an audiologist for a full hearing test.

The patient may also have lab work done to test for prenatal infections that can cause hearing loss in infants. Lab work can help confirm if any syndromes are related to the hearing loss.

A geneticist and genetic counselor can help narrow down which syndromes are likely and eliminate ones that are not. Specific genes can be tested for further confirmation.

If you or someone you love is suspected of having genetic hearing loss, there are options to find out the cause as well as a variety of treatments available. To learn more, call Sharp Hearing today.

Stop the “Cycle” of Hearing Loss

Many people in Plano finish the holidays with a new year’s resolution or two. You might want to drop a few pounds by vowing to eat more veggies and enroll in a fitness class. In spite of your good intentions, joining a gym can have unintended negative consequences. Certain exercises might actually be harmful to your hearing.

Fitness Classes Can Be Noisy

spin class

One of the most popular fitness classes in Plano, and throughout Texas, is spinning. The benefits of indoor cycling are clear; you’ll get an intense cardio workout that burns up to 600 calories an hour, enough to burn off all the cookies and eggnog you consumed over the holidays. The problem with this group activity lies in the loud music that most instructors play during class. It may be a great way to motivate you to pedal harder, but it’s not doing your ears any favors.

How loud to hearing damage

Anything louder than 85 decibels (dB) causes damage the tiny hair cells in the inner ear, causing irreversible hearing loss. The louder the sound, the quicker damage occurs; for every 3-dB increase in volume above 85, your safe exposure time is cut in half. Volume levels in a typical spin class hover around 113 dB, enough to cause hearing damage in only 15 minutes. With the average spin class lasting 40-60 minutes, it’s obvious that pedaling your way to good health might not be worth the tradeoff.

Hearing hazards are avoidable

Hearing hazards in the gym aren’t confined to spinning. Any fitness class that incorporates loud music, such as aerobics, poses similar risks. Clanking weights, motorized treadmills, rowing machines and Stairmasters all add to the overall noisy atmosphere in any fitness center. If it’s big enough and crowded – as it inevitably will be these first few weeks of the new year while resolutions are still fresh in everybody’s minds and complacency hasn’t set in yet – you could be hurting your hearing, too.

Burning Calories Safely

Just because noisy gyms can potentially damage your hearing doesn’t give you an excuse to avoid exercise. There are too many positive health benefits to justify skipping workouts! You just have to learn how to do so safely.

If you’re taking a spinning or aerobics class and the music is too loud, ask your instructor to turn it down. Be prepared to be overruled by tossing a pair of earplugs into your gym bag. Custom silicone plugs made from impressions of your ear canals work best, but even an inexpensive pair of foam plugs from the drugstore will provide you with protection from harmful noise. If you’re not into group workouts, try going to the gym when it’s least crowded; fewer people means less noise.

For more tips on workouts that won’t damage your hearing, give your Plano audiologist a call.

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How Can I Tell if My Partner is Ignoring Me…or Can’t Hear?

Many Plano couples blame their partners for “selective hearing,” especially when it comes time to take out the garbage or clean the bathroom. When the chore doesn’t get done, an argument ensues. “But, honey,” one person will invariably say. “It’s not my fault. I didn’t hear you!” We’re going to help you spot the signs and determine when your significant other is trying to avoid work…and when they honestly might not have heard you!

Hearing Loss Signs in Texas

old couple walking hand in hand

Seven out of ten people think their partner has selective hearing, according to the results of a recent study out of Britain. In other words, they “choose” not to hear something their significant other has said—often in relation to a chore or other request. Men are the worst offenders, tuning out their partner on average just over seven times a week (388 times a year, to be precise). Women do this about six times a week, or a total of 339 times a year.

Hearing loss negatively affects relationships

This can lead to hurt feelings and arguments. But they aren’t ready to bust out the yellow pages (do people even still use those?) in search of a marriage counselor just yet; many of the respondents are quick to admit their partner might not be ignoring them. Over half suspect that a hearing problem might be to blame, and 40 percent go so far as to say they “know with certainty” that their partner is struggling to hear.

What are the risks of untreated hearing loss?

Hearing loss is a widespread concern in Texas and across the country. When untreated, it can result in physical, social and psychological health complications; the list of negative effects includes loneliness, depression, dementia and an increased risk of falling. The signs of hearing loss are often subtle; it takes an average of seven years from its onset before the typical patient seeks treatment. When a hearing impairment isn’t obvious, it’s easy to think selective hearing is at play.

Signs of Hearing Loss

Your Plano audiologist says to pay attention to possible signs of hearing loss. These include:

  • Frequently say “huh?” or “what?”
  • Ask others to speak more clearly, slowly and loudly
  • Complain that others mumble when they speak
  • Have trouble following conversations over noisy backgrounds
  • Struggle with certain consonant sounds (e.g., “s” and “f”)
  • Have difficulty with high-pitched sounds (doorbells, telephones)
  • Turn up the volume on the television or radio
  • Withdraw from social activities

Help yourself or your loved one

If you or your significant other is experiencing any of these (and the garage still hasn’t been cleaned, even after repeated requests!), contact an audiologist in Plano for a hearing exam. This is the best way to know for certain whether your partner is tuning out, or actually can’t hear you, and today’s varied hearing aid options can treat any degree of hearing loss.

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Studies Show Untreated Hearing Loss Leads to Loneliness

Hearing loss has profound effects on the daily lives of thousands of Plano residents. It’s linked to a variety of physical, social and psychological issues; new research shows that people with hearing loss are more likely to experience loneliness—especially if they don’t treat their condition.

Barriers to Treatment in Plano

barrier in front of a door

Hearing loss affects 48 million Americans of all ages, making it one of the most common chronic health conditions in Texas and across the country. Only arthritis and heart disease rank higher. Given the large number of patients and the availability of a treatment solution that benefits 90 percent of those afflicted, you would think that most people take steps to improve their quality of life.

But surprisingly, only about one out of every five older adults with hearing loss wears hearing aids. This leaves 23 million people with untreated hearing loss. According to JAMA Otolaryngology — Head and Neck Surgery, over a ten-year period the likelihood of developing additional conditions goes up.

How often does untreated hearing loss cause other problems after 10 years?

  • Are 50 percent more likely to experience dementia
  • Are 40 percent more likely to experience depression
  • Are 30 percent more likely to sustain falls

Why do people choose not to get hearing aids?

Why are so many people forgoing hearing aids? There are several reasons, starting with the fact that it’s possible many of them don’t even know they have a hearing impairment.

Hearing loss usually develops gradually; as it does, the brain is quite adept at filling in the blanks by diverting resources from key cognitive areas, such as memory and concentration, to assist in hearing. This makes recognizing the signs difficult.

Even when aware of their condition, many choose to skip a visit to the audiologist. Some fear there is a stigma associated with hearing aid use, others don’t think hearing aids will make much of a difference in their lives. Cost is an issue for many; few health plans cover the costs associated with hearing treatment, including Medicare.

Does hearing loss go away on its own?

Unfortunately, ignoring your condition won’t do you any favors. In fact, it increases your risk of experiencing many related health problems. Because following conversations can cause strain and listening fatigue, many people with hearing loss end up withdrawing from social activities.

This leads to isolation and loneliness; a recent Dutch study showed that for people under the age of 70, every decibel drop in hearing perception was associated with a seven percent increase in the likelihood of severe loneliness.

The worse hearing loss gets, the greater the complications.

The more profound the hearing loss, the more severe loneliness becomes. This can trigger other health issues such as stress, high blood pressure and a weakened immune system, increasing the risks of developing dementia by 40 percent and premature death by 26 percent. This has prompted some health experts to call social isolation as dangerous as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

Why does hearing loss increase dementia risks?

The close connection between hearing loss, loneliness and dementia is well-established if not quite understood. Loneliness is known to increase stress hormones and inflammation, factors that can lead to dementia.

Compounding the problem? The lack of brain stimulation associated with isolation can speed up cognitive impairment.

Research by Johns Hopkins University is currently underway to determine whether treatment for hearing loss can delay or prevent cognitive decline and reduce loneliness. Upon completion of the study in 2022, doctors are hopeful that new treatment solutions will be available for hearing-impaired patients.

If you suspect hearing loss, schedule a visit today.

The sooner hearing loss is detected, the better your odds of avoiding long-term health complications. Your Plano audiologist recommends regular hearing screenings to help catch any problems early.

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Hearing Aids Reduce Health Risks in Seniors

Hearing loss is common as we age. Many older adults in Plano experience the negative effects of impaired hearing, including difficulty following conversations and trouble filtering out background noise. If left untreated, hearing loss can lead to social isolation and declines in mental and physical health. Fortunately, research shows that hearing aids can help reduce those risks and improve overall quality of life.

Age-Related Hearing Loss

senior couple sitting on a bench

Known as presbycusis, age-related hearing loss is a widespread condition affecting many people in Texas. It can occur due to the cumulative effects of a lifetime of noise exposure and is associated with factors such as genetics, medications, trauma and disease. One-third of people over the age of 65 develop hearing loss in Plano. By age 75, that figure is around 50 percent.

Do hearing aids help with symptoms of age-related hearing loss?

A study published in the September 4 edition of Journal of the American Geriatrics Society found that people 66 and older who were treated with hearing aids upon being diagnosed with hearing loss had a lower risk of dementia, depression, anxiety and fall-related injuries over the following three years, compared to patients who did not start wearing hearing aids right away.

What benefits do hearing aids provide?

Specifically, the patients who wore hearing aids experienced the following benefits.

  • The risk of being diagnosed with dementia or Alzheimer’s was 18 percent lower
  • The risk of a depression or anxiety diagnosis was 11 percent lower
  • The risk of receiving treatment for a fall-related injury was 13 percent lower

Does every eligible person choose to wear a hearing aid?

Elham Mahmoudi, a University of Michigan Department of Family Medicine health economist and study leader, summed up the results thusly: “Hearing loss is a potentially modifiable risk factor. A simpler system of hearing care, insurance coverage and more educational outreach on potential benefits of using hearing aids is needed.” Those benefits include a higher quality of life and lower healthcare costs because there are fewer chronic conditions or falls that require treatment.

The downside? Just 12 percent of seniors diagnosed with hearing loss decide to wear hearing aids, even when their health insurance helps cover at least part of the costs.

Barriers to Wearing Hearing Aids

Hearing loss usually develops gradually; this helps explain why it takes the average person seven years from the onset of their condition to seek treatment. There are other barriers to wearing hearing aids, as well. Cost is a factor, though it tends to be a minor one. There is a stigma to wearing hearing aids, with many people afraid the devices will make them appear older. There are also concerns about comfort and convenience.

Do men or women wear hearing aids more often?

Dr. Mahmoudi’s study showed that men are more likely to wear hearing aids; 13.3 percent of males and 11.3 percent of females in the study chose to wear them. Racial/ethnic makeup and geography also played a role. Latinos were the least likely to wear hearing aids while whites were more apt to choose them, and people living in the North Central region had much higher rates of hearing aid use compared to those living in the Desert Southwest.

As compelling as the study is, it leaves some unanswered questions. Despite the large sample size and lengthy follow-up period, it’s unknown how the degree of the patients’ hearing loss factored in or how often they used their hearing aids. Also unknown: whether hearing aids were responsible for the delay in health risks or merely associated with them. The National Institute on Aging is funding a new multi-year randomized study to help determine answers to those questions.

Contact us to learn more about treating hearing loss

There is no doubt that hearing aids provide benefit to a majority of individuals in Plano who have hearing loss. If you or a loved one are experiencing a decline in hearing, schedule a visit with an audiologist to learn about treatment options. Doing so will help offset your long-term health risks.

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Hearing Aids Are Getting Smarter

Advances in technology, fueled by AI and other digital breakthroughs, have led to a wide range of smart devices.

Consumers in Plano can buy smart lightbulbs, thermostats, security cameras and more. Fans of “The Terminator” might view these modern devices with trepidation, but we’re all in favor of things that make life easier and more convenient. Hearing aids are already benefiting from new technology.

How Technology is Improving Hearing Aids

smart woman wearing glasses

Few would argue that hearing aids improve the lives of patients with hearing loss in Plano and across the U.S. They enable people to hear more easily and communicate more effectively, allowing them to participate in social activities and enjoy their favorite pastimes.

In addition, hearing aid help prevent some of the health complications associated with untreated hearing loss—a list that includes depression, anxiety, cognitive impairment and physical conditions like diabetes and kidney disease.

Hearing aids have changed drastically over the years as analog gave way to digital technology—and every year, they improve even more.

Recent hearing aid innovations

The biggest innovations in hearing aid technology in recent years include:

  • Audio streaming. Wireless technology has made it possible to connect Bluetooth®-enabled devices like smartphones and TVs directly to your hearing aids, allowing you to stream audio to one or both hearing aids. Sound is controlled through a phone app, enabling you to operate your hearing aids easily and conveniently. Multiple devices can be connected, ensuring you won’t miss a phone call while listening to music or watching television.
  • Smart home connectivity. Hearing aids are joining the list of smart home devices thanks to a software platform called IFTTT, which takes advantage of a wireless connection to sync internet-enabled devices, automating many everyday functions. Smart hearing aids allow sounds such as spoken notifications or chimes to be delivered directly to the wearer—but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Hearing aids can be synced with devices such as bedroom lights and coffeemakers, enabling the user to turn these devices on or off whenever their hearing aids are powered up.
  • AI health monitoring. Artificial intelligence is seeping its way into many aspects of our daily lives, and hearing aids are no exception. Some manufacturers are integrating sensors and AI into their products, enabling them to monitor the user’s physical and mental health. Apps can track different aspects of your health such as daily steps, social engagement, and active listening to deliver an overall wellness score. These sensors may also be able to detect when you have fallen, and automatically alert emergency contacts that have been programmed. Additional measurements, such as heart rate monitoring, will be available in the near future.

Contact a Plano audiologist to learn more about how hearing aids can help improve your quality of life.

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Our Plano Audiologist Office Location

4012 W Park Blvd
Plano, TX 75093
(972) 612-0943

Can Hearing Aids Save Your Marriage?

The physical, mental and psychological effects of hearing loss in Plano are well-documented. Rarely discussed is the toll a hearing impairment can take on your marriage. Many a Texas couple has fought over accusations that their partner doesn’t listen to them, but in reality, it’s possible they simply can’t hear them!

Is it Hearing Loss or a Deeper Rift?

wedding photo

Hearing loss is a widespread condition not only in Plano, but across the country, affecting an estimated 48 million Americans. It’s the third most common chronic physical health condition, trailing only arthritis and heart disease. The belief that hearing impairment is confined to the elderly is a misconception; it can strike people of all ages and is often the result of exposure to noise. Even if your spouse is a decade or two away from qualifying for an AARP membership, it’s very possible that they are having trouble hearing you – and they might not even realize it! Because hearing loss develops gradually and the brain automatically compensates, the condition often goes unrecognized for years.

To determine whether your better half isn’t really your “better” half or if they may be suffering from impaired hearing, the following signs indicate you shouldn’t be quite so eager to banish them to the proverbial doghouse just yet:

  • They frequently asking you to repeat yourself
  • They complain that other people mumble when they speak
  • They find holding a conversation when background noise is present to be difficult
  • They watch TV or listen to music with the volume turned up uncomfortably high

If you suspect your partner is suffering from hearing loss, quit looking for a divorce lawyer and make an appointment with an audiologist in Plano instead. The sooner their condition is diagnosed, the more likely you two are to be celebrating that silver wedding anniversary together!

The key to your long-term marriage success just might be hearing aids. These devices are a boon to couples everywhere who feel ignored – and, of course, they help improve the quality of life for the vast majority of patients with hearing loss! Studies indicate the biggest benefit appears to be in the users’ social lives – this includes relationships! No marriage is perfect, but when hearing loss is contributing to your relationship woes, hearing aids might just be the solution to keep you together for the long haul.

For more information on hearing loss in Plano, or to discuss options for hearing aids, schedule an appointment with your local audiologist as soon as possible.

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Our Plano Audiologist Office Location

4012 W Park Blvd
Plano, TX 75093
(972) 612-0943

Coping with Hearing Loss & Tinnitus

Hearing loss and tinnitus both affect roughly one in five people in Plano.

These individuals face challenges when it comes to following conversations.

For the unlucky ones who suffer from both, coping on a daily basis is even more difficult.

When Tinnitus & Hearing Loss Cause Problems

yoga on a rock by the ocean

Hearing loss and tinnitus often go hand in hand; there is a lot of overlap between the two, and tinnitus sufferers – already burdened by poor sleep, stress and anxiety, and problems with concentration and memory – have it doubly bad when they must also deal with hearing loss.

That ringing in the ears can become even more troublesome and difficult to control, given that most of the traditional strategies recommended for coping with tinnitus involve sound – problematic when contending with a hearing impairment.

Compounding matters is the fact that tinnitus has no cure.

That doesn’t mean you have to grimace and bear it, however; your Plano audiologist has some strategies that can help you cope when you are dealing with both tinnitus and hearing loss.

Make sure to do the following:

  • See an audiologist. Before doing anything else, see an audiologist. A hearing specialist will determine the type and severity of your hearing loss by administering a hearing exam that will allow them to pinpoint the specific frequencies affected and recommend a hearing aid that specifically targets those areas. They may even be able to treat your tinnitus if the cause is something simple, such as excess earwax or the side effect of a drug you have been prescribed. If not, they can still recommend strategies based on the severity of your tinnitus.
  • Wear hearing aids. The majority of people with hearing loss in Plano benefit from wearing hearing aids. These are designed to boost the volume of sounds in your listening environment, providing you with the ability to hear more effectively. Hearing aids don’t only help restore the frequencies affected by your hearing impairment – they can also be used to help you treat tinnitus. Turning up the volume on your aids and boosting background sounds can help mask the ringing in your ears, making your tinnitus less noticeable. Many hearing aids even come with features designed for people with tinnitus, such as white noise, music or nature sounds – all of which serve to lower the perceived volume of your tinnitus, helping your brain habituate to it so it becomes less noticeable.
  • Learn to relax…literally. Stress can cause tinnitus to flare up, making symptoms worse. Learning to relax will help calm you down and quiet the ringing in your ears. Try home remedies such as a hot bath before bedtime, giving yourself a trigger point massage using a tennis ball or foam roller and trying progressive muscle relaxation, a technique that involves tensing and then relaxing different groups of muscles for 10-20 seconds at a time, beginning with your toes and working your way up to your head. Another helpful trick is the 4-7-8 breathing exercise:
    • Place the tip of your tongue against the ridge of tissue behind your upper front teeth.
    • Exhale through your mouth, making a whooshing sound.
    • Close your mouth and inhale through your nose while counting to four.
    • Hold your breath and count to seven.
    • Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whooshing sound and counting to eight.
    • Repeat the cycle three more times.
  • Get rid of tinnitus triggers. For many people, tinnitus waxes and wanes, much like the moon and tides. It will come on strong, level off and then increase in intensity and volume – and never when you expect it to. Try keeping a journal charting things like diet, exercise, lifestyle and environment to help pinpoint potential tinnitus triggers. If you are able to identify those, take the steps necessary to reduce their influence on your life.

Your Plano audiologist can provide you with more tips for coping with tinnitus and hearing loss. Schedule an appointment today if you’d like additional information.

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Our Plano Audiologist Office Location

4012 W Park Blvd
Plano, TX 75093
(972) 612-0943

Three Life Hacks for Tinnitus Patients

Tinnitus is common in Plano. About one in five Texas residents experiences a ringing or other sensation in one or both ears. For some it’s barely noticeable, but others perceive it as a full-time distraction that impacts their quality of life. For these people, living with tinnitus can be challenging – but we have a few tips that can help ease your suffering.

Side Effects of Tinnitus

large bell

Whether tinnitus is an occasional nuisance or a constant bother, you are sure to experience at least a few side effects. People with tinnitus in Plano often deal with anxiety, stress and irritability, all of which can make symptoms worse. It’s a vicious circle that many find tough to break. The worse your tinnitus, the more of an impact it has on your life. Many find tinnitus interferes with sleep, causing daytime fatigue, memory problems and difficulty concentrating. Jobs and relationships can suffer.

There is no cure for tinnitus, but we have compiled some “life hacks” that should make living with a ringing in your ears more bearable.

  1. High-fidelity earplugs. Tinnitus may be mild at first but can progress over time. This makes preserving your remaining hearing a top priority. Be cognizant of the damage noise causes and protect your hearing by wearing earplugs whenever you participate in activities where harmful noise levels are likely to occur. Earplugs sold in drugstores do offer protection, but they cause sounds to appear distorted or muffled. High-fidelity earplugs solve this problem by utilizing filters that reduce decibel levels evenly across the hearing spectrum. This allows you to participate in conversations more easily and enjoy music. One-size-fits-all high-fidelity earplugs can be purchased online or in select retail stores, but you’ll receive better protection, not to mention a more comfortable fit, with custom earplugs crafted from molds of your ear canals. Your Plano audiologist can do this for you. Custom earplugs will cost a bit more, but can you really put a price tag on preserving your hearing?
  2. White noise. Many people with tinnitus in Plano utilize white noise therapy as a way to mask, or cover up, the ringing in their ears. White noise is a random assortment of sounds with flat spectral density throughout the audible frequency range; because there are so many different frequencies being employed, white noise is great at masking other sounds – including tinnitus. You can find white noise machines that offer falling rain, ocean waves and other ambient sounds at many specialty retailers or download an app for your smartphone – a wide variety are available for both iPhone and Android users. Or simply switch on an air-conditioner or fan to achieve the same effect. For the best results, set your white noise volume a little lower than the ringing in your ears; partial masking can help your brain habituate more easily and make your tinnitus less noticeable.
  3. Assemble a tinnitus kit. Tinnitus tends to be unpredictable, worse at certain times and less noticeable during others. In order to be prepared for any possibility when heading out, put together a “tinnitus kit” containing supplies that will help you cope with tinnitus when your symptoms come on strong. Include items such as medications, earplugs, earbuds or headphones and hearing aids. Include a list of emergency contacts and be sure to add your Plano audiologist’s information.

For more strategies on managing tinnitus symptoms, contact your Plano hearing specialist.

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Our Plano Audiologist Office Location

4012 W Park Blvd
Plano, TX 75093
(972) 612-0943

Navigating Plano Roads Safely with Hearing Loss

The Beatles once sang, “Baby, you can drive my car.”

But if you’ve got hearing loss in Plano, don’t even think about sliding behind the wheel without your hearing aids.

There are other steps you can take to ensure a safe trip from Point A to Point B, as well.

Hearing is Essential to Safe Driving

person driving a car with hearing loss

Having good vision is imperative for Plano drivers, but hearing is equally important.

Your safety depends upon it!

You’ll need to be alert to warning sounds such as emergency vehicle sirens and honking horns.

The following tips will help ensure a safe driving experience for those with a hearing impairment.

  • Visit your Plano audiologist. Ignoring signs of hearing loss won’t make your impairment disappear. If you are experiencing symptoms, make an appointment with an audiologist in Plano as soon as possible. Untreated hearing loss significantly impacts your quality of life and increases your risk of developing a number of physical, social and psychological problems.
  • Avoid distracted driving. Distracted driving was responsible for 3,500 traffic fatalities in 2016 and 390,000 injuries in 2015, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The most common driving distractions include:
    • Music. Loud music interferes with your concentration and can prevent you from hearing warning sounds. Keep the volume turned down when listening to music and other forms of entertainment – podcasts and audio books can be every bit as distracting.
    • Passengers. It’s nice to have company when you’re driving, but chatty passengers can distract you from driving. Let them know that, as much as you enjoy chitchat about the weather and the latest pennant race, your hearing impairment demands you pay close attention to the road.
    • Open windows. Cranking open the windows on a warm day can let in a nice, refreshing breeze, but wind and road noise may interfere with your ability to stay alert. Turn on the air-conditioner instead of rolling down windows, opening the moonroof, etc.
    • Cellphones. When it comes to driving distractions, cellphones are public enemy #1. More traffic accidents can be attributed to inappropriate cellphone use than anything else. Keep your phone in your pocket; there is no call that can’t wait until you reach your destination (with the exception of an emergency). Texting is even more dangerous.
  • Rely on visual cues. Good vision can help compensate for hearing loss. Schedule regular eye exams and, if you require corrective lenses, always wear them when driving. Additional tips to help with visual acuity include:
    • Full-view rearview mirrors. Full-view rearview mirrors allow you to see more and are especially handy when backing up and navigating parking lots and other places with a lot of pedestrians.
    • Backup cameras. Many of today’s cars and trucks come with dashboard-mounted backup cameras; these help alert you to vehicles, pedestrians and other hazards you might have trouble spotting on your own.

For more tips on driving safely with hearing loss, contact your Plano hearing specialist.