Motherhood is both a calling and vocation. The pay isn’t great. The downtime is pretty much non-existent. And the hours are… Well pretty much 24/7. The price we pay to get to see our little ones grow up, teach them to stand, walk and read and help them to build their lives is eternal vigilance. And, let’s be honest, it’s a price we’d pay a dozen times over. Well, maybe half a dozen. The point is that Mums need to be attuned to even the slightest indication that all is not well with their children, especially in the early years. A Mum’s ears need to be like an all-knowing radar dish, able to identify the sound of a trip, fall, tumble or slip in an instant. Motherhood makes numerous changes to our brains and in many seems to bring out a heightened sensory awareness as well as increased emotional and interpersonal intelligence. Basically, motherhood makes women half Wonder Woman, half Daredevil.
However, this does not mean that a Mum can take her ears for granted. As studiously as she may track and chart her child’s physical, intellectual and emotional development, she must also be kind and aware when it comes to her own body. She must audit her health regularly, not just to ensure that she’s fit for the rigours of parenthood, but to ensure that she can live a full and happy life.
How you could have hearing loss… And not even realize it
The thing with hearing loss is that when we are afflicted by it we rarely notice. It’s not like hearing loss has the opportunity to spring up overnight. In most cases, hearing loss sneaks up on us slowly and gradually. It can take years, or even decades for us to finally realise that our hearing may not have the accuity that it once did. The key is in knowing the signs and the causes of hearing loss. When you have a knowledge of this, you can seek the help of an audiologist to rectify (or at least mitigate) your hearing loss.
What happens if you do nothing
It can be difficult to admit that we have hearing loss. For many of us, it’s just one more reminder of our mortality and fragility that we can do without. Even when we’re not in outright denial about our hearing loss, we can push it to the back of our minds for a long time. After all, we Mums are incredibly busy. We don’t have the free time to spend ages with an audiologist waiting for them to find the right solution for us.
However, if you do nothing about your hearing loss it will never rectify itself. Indeed, hearing loss is (in most cases) degenerative meaning that it will only ever get worse without intervention. This means that you are less likely to be able to hear your child if they have any slips, trips or tumbles around the home. In fact, even talking to them could be an ordeal. When we have hearing loss we tend to “lose” higher frequencies like children’s voices first. Speaking of talking, it can also wreak havoc on your social life (all Mums need one). It can make it impossible to follow a conversation in a cafe, pub or restaurant. A catch up with the girls over a coffee can be a stressful and exhausting slog.
Those of us who have hearing loss and do nothing often find that it is detrimental to our social lives and our mental health.
Knowing the signs of hearing loss
While it’s a good idea to book an appointment with your audiologist if you haven’t had a hearing test in a while, it’s always useful to keep an eye out for the signs of hearing loss. We have a way of dismissing these when they occur but over time they can quickly add up to an inescapable conclusion;
- You find that you need to TV, stereo, bluetooth speaker etc. on louder than everyone else in the home.
- You struggle to pick out individual voices from background noise in a busy environment.
- You struggle to follow the plot of films and TV programs because the dialogue isn’t loud enough.
- Your neighbours often ask you to keep the noise down.
- You find social situations increasingly stressful and tiring.
- You often get the ever-present ringing in your ears known as tinnitus.
Knowing the causes of hearing loss
If you notice any of the above occurring frequently, your audiologist can help by identifying the cause of your hearing loss and helping you to implement an appropriate treatment. This could be a hearing aid, changes to your lifestyle or in some cases a referral to an ENT clinic for medication or even surgery.
Some of the most common causes of hearing loss include;
- Frequent exposure to loud noises
- Working with noisy machinery without proper ear protection
- Genetic conditions like Meniere’s Disease
- Injury to the head or neck
- Viruses like measles and mumps
- Simply getting older
The trouble with tinnitus
With many of the causes of hearing loss, the loss of hearing itself is often accompanied by tinnitus. That distracting and irritating ringing noise that has no source but never seems to go away. Tinnitus can be distracting in environments with a fair amount of background noise, but in quiet spaces it can be absolutely maddening. It can even prevent us from being able to drift off to sleep at night. The net result is one distracted, cranky, irritable and under-rested Mum.
The good news is that an audiologist can help you here, too by prescribing specific hearing aids for tinnitus treatment. These work in a number of ways. They can emit a pleasant low-level sound to effectively cancel out your tinnitus and can even help you to train your brain to block it out altogether.
Wax on, wax off
Finally, if you notice a sharp decline in your hearing, there’s no need to panic. You may simply have an ear wax blockage in your inner ear. This may also be accompanied by dizziness and a feeling of pressure in your ear. There are a number of over-the-counter treatments that allow you to rectify this yourself. Nonetheless, your audiologist can help to clean out your ears safely and effectively.