Contributed by Debbie Clason, staff writer, Healthy Hearing
Los Angeles resident and industrial manufacturing engineer, Harvey Patterson, knew he had hearing loss, but he didn’t think it was anybody’s else’s problem but his own. Even though at work, other engineers were conducting phone conversations for him because he couldn’t understand the conversation. And he was experiencing “friction” with his wife because he was deliberately avoiding her phone calls from home. He even found himself withdrawing from family activities because it was just too frustrating to communicate effectively. All of that changed when his youngest grandson confronted him when Harvey missed his track meet.
“I was going through life as though it only affects me and I can live with this,” Harvey said of his hearing loss, “but when my grandson asked me if i still loved him, that’s when I realized it doesn’t just affect me. It affects the ones I love more than it affects me. I couldn’t stand putting the people I love through that. That’s when I decided I had to do something.”
A history of noise exposure
So Harvey sought help from a hearing healthcare professional and was diagnosed with high-frequency hearing loss, likely a result of noise exposure. His audiologist said the damage to his hearing likely began long ago, while he was a member of his college pistol and rifle team and before hearing protection was widely available. The noise he was exposed to in his career as an industrial engineer likely caused additional damage.
“The trade I fell into and fell in love with is a very noisy trade,” he said. “The decibel level isn’t considered hazardous, but after being in the trade for 50 years, it accumulates.”
According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) affects as many as one in every four Americans between the ages of 20 to 69. NIHL can be caused by a one-time exposure to an extremely loud noise, such as a gunshot or firecracker, or develop over time with prolonged exposure to high levels of noise. Fortunately, today’s hearing aid technology is an effective treatment for this type of hearing loss, something Harvey is only too happy to confirm.
Hearing aids bring dramatic results
“I’m trying to get my story out there so more people will realize they need to do something about their hearing loss,” he said. “When people’s eyesight gets bad, they spend whatever it takes to make it better. Hearing is just as important as your eyesight, I think.”
Harvey said he could instantly hear better the moment he was fit with his Signia Pure hearing aids. He heard the air moving in the air conditioner vents and his wife, who was sitting behind him, when she spoke. After they left the office, he said he heard so many noises it was almost overwhelming. At home, conversations with his family became a lot more enjoyable.
“There was more laughter. There was more joking around,” he said. “I realized all the wonderful sounds of living and nature I hadn’t been hearing. They go away so gradually that you don’t realize it.”
Harvey’s audiologist programmed his hearing aids with four programs he can switch between depending on his listening environment, either by using an app on his smartphone or manually flipping a switch on his hearing aids. Programs such as the Spatial Configurator give him the ability to control how his hearing aids pick up sound. But Harvey also loves the Bluetooth capabilities, which allows him to stream sound directly into his hearing aids.
“If I’m in the shop working on the machine, I don’t even have to put the phone up to my ear,” he said. “I can put the phone down, use both hands to work and talk to the technician. What he’s saying to me comes right through my hearing aids. None of the machine or background shop noise affects it. I actually hear the tech better than the other engineer would when he’d put the phone up to his ear.”
Harvey says the biggest problem he has with his hearing aids is forgetting to take them off at night. “I wear them from 5:30 a.m. until 9:00 or 10:00 at night,” he said. “I don’t want to take them off because when I do, there’s that silence again that I had before.”
Wise advice about hearing loss
Harvey’s advice to others? Do your family a favor and seek treatment for your hearing loss.
“It doesn’t just affect you, it affects your loved ones. Why would you want to make this precious life you have more difficult for them? My wife keeps telling me I’m a changed person now that I hear again. She’s probably getting more pleasure out of having them than me.”
If you’re ready to start your journey to better hearing health, search our directory of hearing healthcare professionals. Like Harvey, today’s hearing aids can improve your quality of life as well as that of those you love, so make an appointment today.