Hearing Loss... Guidance and Ideas Requested - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 22 Old 03-27-2018, 11:01 PM Thread Starter
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Hearing Loss... Guidance and Ideas Requested

Long post. Sorry.

Basics up front. I'm 42. A first grade teacher. My wife and I have a two and a half year old daughter.

Woodworking is a hobby rather than a job. I usually get a chance to do some wood projects maybe once a month. I don't listen to loud too music. Hearing has never been a big problem. I have had mild ringing for years, very mild. And I've never had a hard time hearing or understanding. My dad has hearing loss. He's turning 78 this year and has had hearing aids for maybe 8 years, probably a touch less.

Two weeks ago, I went to a friend's house to help them dismantle a 20' x 8' storage shed. It was WELL put together, all joints were joined with decking screws and Liquid Nails. Every last joint. When we were breaking the seal between the 2X4s and the siding, we were using pry bars to pop in between the joint. We didn't have access to rubber mallets, so we were using regular hammers. No hearing protection in my toolbox... didn't expect to have to break seals between Liquid Nails and studding. Lesson learned to always have ear protection in the toolbox.

After about 5 strikes, I felt a change in my ears. I immediately stopped, as did the people I was working with. I expected the feeling to change within a day or two... kind of like when you go to a concert and have a ringing feeling. Unfortunately, I'm two weeks out, and the feeling and hearing hasn't fully come back.

I went to an ENT a week ago and did a full exam. My low range and mid range are fine, but my high range is lessening. In the graph, though, he said that the loss looked to be more due to long term hearing loss rather than a "catastrophic hearing event." He also said that for the hammers to have caused this type of hearing loss, it would have had to have been for multiple hours, he estimated it would have taken 4-5 hours of constant hammering.

Since the event two weeks ago, I feel as though there is a dull pressure in my ears, like cotton or similar object deep in the ear canal. The ENT checked but didn't see anything. He did ask about sinus infections and allergies, and checked my nasal passages. He said I was very congested, but not showing signs of drainage. I've been on Flonase and a strong steroid (40 mg of Prednisone) for a week. I haven't noticed significant drainage, nor has the pressure gone away from within my ears.

Anyone else go through anything like this? Is the "pressure" my ear's compensating for the loss of high frequencies?

Just looking for ideas, guidance, support, whatever you've got. I can still understand what my daughter and wife say, but it's definitely not as easy as before. And working with 6 year olds that have higher frequencies to their voices... it makes my job a bit more challenging.

Thanks in advance, all. I appreciate your support.

-Joel
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post #2 of 22 Old 03-27-2018, 11:16 PM
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Any loud noises you experience over a lifetime can harm your hearing. If you are experiencing ringing in the ear it sounds like you are especially sensitive to noise. You can buy cheap ear muffs anywhere. You might get several of them and keep them wherever you might work. Myself I'm experiencing some hearing loss but I've been around machinery for more than 45 years. I've been around machinery that was so loud it makes my ear drums itch.
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post #3 of 22 Old 03-27-2018, 11:52 PM
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My sympathies Joel. My hearing was well on its way to the toilet by the time I was in my 40's.
Always wore gunshot hearing protection with several extra layers of foam damper for shooting, pyro and wood working.
I think that I got stuck with sensitive hearing that's been very easily damaged.

In my case, four things are going wrong:
1. I have lost all the top frequencies. Squeaky voices are incomprehensible. Think I'm down to less than 4k Hz.
2. Volume is a lesser but significant issue. Don't whisper!
3. I can't discriminate a voice against a lot of back ground noise. Just gets lost.

The audiologist suggested that these things were from gunshots and explosions. Maybe so, 'Nuther story.
In part, these are things which really pushed me in the direction of retirement from my biology professor job.

4. The absolute worst of all? "Aural Cognitive Disfunction." The worst of the worst.
Let's suppose that you are standing in front of me, speaking clearly enough and loudly enough.
The sounds that you make do not match word-sounds in my head. I can't figure out what you're saying.
My kids are almost 40-somethings, hard to have any kind of a conversation.

So, cheer up! Do what you can for as long as you can. You're not alone.
Brian
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post #4 of 22 Old 03-28-2018, 12:57 AM
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Protect your hearing at all cost, you don't get a second chance, once the damage is done it don't come back. I worked within 3 feet of jets under flying power on an aircraft carrier, I ran hooks. I had to make sure the cable was off the hook when the plane landed. At 17 years old, I just didn't think and sometimes didn't wear hearing protection, I am paying for that now and my hearing is getting much worse.
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post #5 of 22 Old 03-28-2018, 05:19 AM
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Get an Otovent to clear out any blockage. I wear two aids. (Free here in UK on NHS). When using a circular saw etc, always stuff plug of tissue in my ears. Have also had to do do in the cinema sometimes.
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post #6 of 22 Old 03-28-2018, 06:15 AM
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A woodworking forum is not the best place to get advice on hearing loss and what to do.

You need to see an Eye/Ear?Nose (ENT) specialist.

George
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post #7 of 22 Old 03-28-2018, 06:55 AM
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yes, I am experiencing the same issue. did have a cold before that tho. feels like it is plugged for sure, about 2 weeks now. also hear echo's.


nice thing is I can tell my wife I didn't hear her. :^)
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post #8 of 22 Old 03-28-2018, 07:07 AM
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I must confess that I do not wear my aids all the time. Use mainly for TV or when playing Bridge.
Betahistine (Serk) is used for tinnitus.
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post #9 of 22 Old 03-28-2018, 07:45 AM
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My hearing loss is in the low range. Audiologist said that is hereditary. Thanks, Mom. I have two hearing aids but they amplify background noise in restaurants, church foyer, or anywhere these is an echo. Still can't hear! The only time they are worthwhile is watching TV so SWMBO doesn't complain the volume is too high. I'm adamant about hearing protection while working in the shop with my grandsons or while shooting.
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post #10 of 22 Old 03-28-2018, 10:41 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GeorgeC View Post
A woodworking forum is not the best place to get advice on hearing loss and what to do.

You need to see an Eye/Ear?Nose (ENT) specialist.

George
Thanks. Saw an ENT last Tuesday.

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post #11 of 22 Old 03-28-2018, 11:20 AM
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I have constant ringing in my ears and loss of high range. I got a triple whammy going. Worked as a cabinetmaker and carpenter for years without ear protection. My father had ringing also so likely it is hereditary. Years of chemotherapy and cancer treatments that list possible side effects causing tinnitus.
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post #12 of 22 Old 03-28-2018, 03:36 PM
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All I can suggest (other than seeing medical professionals) is to wear hearing protection when doing woodworking with power tools. I keep a set of Peltor 29 dB muffs in the shop and another set in the garage for working outside. Been doing that since I started woodworking several decades ago. I'm 71 and only have marginal hearing loss, mostly due to paying attention to other things at the time.

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post #13 of 22 Old 03-28-2018, 04:38 PM
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Having been a musician for 35+ years and playing very loud R&R as well as attending some of the loudest rock concerts on record during the 60's 70's and 80's, as well as being a SCUBA instructor for 20+ years and damaged my inner ear on a few up and down dives, I feel your pain and concerns

I have tinnitus and have had since my late 20's, I've learned to live it with it myself and fortunately it has not gotten worse with age and time (I'm now 60)

I do not wear a hearing aid.

A few things that have occurred to me that have affected my hearing significantly in recent years aside from the above mentioned were:
  1. Spa/Jacuzzi's are terrible for the ear - not to mention the rest of the body. I mention this because what you are describing occurred to me and the wife after a "dip" in a Jacuzzi - they are unclean, bacteria magnets. Fortunately, it cleared up within 3 weeks but it was very scary for awhile. We could barely hear anything and nothing we tried could remove the offending bacteria. Eventually, continuous proper cleaning restored our hearing.
  2. Last year I went to the doctor for an unrelated issue. During the exam, he mentioned to me my ears had a significant wax build up and do I want him to clean them. I had never had this done nor suspected there was an issue, but after he pulled all the "crap" (I mean it was disgusting what came out of my ears LOL) my hearing actually improved slightly.
I'm sure the ENT Dr. you went to was top notch, but sometimes Dr.'s can be singularly focused and may not have examined contributing factors.


I know if I go to the Dr (which I try to avoid at all costs) and tell him " Hey, doc I've been smelling onions for two weeks and nothing else" he will examine my nasal cavity and nothing else. But if I tell him to give me a physical (which I don't) he'll give poke me all over and prod me where the sun don't shine until he finds something or doesn't.


I hope your issue isn't serious or long term, but have you been in a Jacuzzi lately?


Best wishes
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post #14 of 22 Old 03-28-2018, 04:46 PM
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Hearing aids, while expensive, are phenomenal these days. I play in our Praise Band at church and there are typically 6, sometimes 7 of us. Our drummer, in his early 50's, can't hear, the other guitar player just turned 70 and he can't hear, and the electric guitar player, in his early 40's, REALLY can't hear.

Our drummer is having surgery after Easter to do some kind of repair to one ear and they're telling him his hearing will be back to what it was in his 20's, especially after he gets the other ear done.

The 70-year old guitar player has been putting off getting hearing aids for the last 10 years and it's really starting to wear thin on his wife. I look for him to get hearing aids soon. We use in-ear-monitors and with virtually identical systems my volume is at 2 on the dial and his volume is at 9, sometimes 10, and he often says he can't hear his own guitar.

The electric guitar player is borderline deaf but a few years back he had surgery to get a Cochlear implant. It made all the difference in the world for him. When he takes it off you can be 3' in front of him and talk in a loud voice but he still can't tell what you're saying. But with it on he can carry on a normal conversation from across the stage 20' away.

The other 3 players are in their 30's to early 40's and hear normally. I'll be 65 in a few months and have worn hearing protection since I started in the lawn mowing business as a teenager and then on to plastics production, industrial environments, drag racing, woodworking shops, etc. so my hearing is still very good. I keep ear plugs handy and ready to use at a moments notice, even in the kitchen when my wife uses the blender or other loud appliances.

Amazingly, the band sounds good even though half of the players can't hear - LOL!

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post #15 of 22 Old 03-28-2018, 09:49 PM Thread Starter
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I wanted to post a quick update to let y'all know of a small change.

This morning, one of the little gals in my class was asking me a question. The room was fairly quiet, but I couldn't hear her. She repeated her question three more times, each time with me kneeling closer so I could hear. Finally on the fourth try, I heard her enough to understand her question. I tell you, it was a dagger in my gut. I had the thought that my career was going to take a sudden change.

This afternoon, though, I started to feel a bit of relief in my right ear. The pressure seems to be loosening. I still have ringing, but the pressure in that ear seems to be better. Last night we had some massive thunderstorms throughout Central Texas - enough to have some small waterfalls in the vacant property behind our lot. When I was out taking care of our chickens tonight, I could lightly hear the falling water. That was a wonderful sound, to be sure!

Anyway, I wanted to say thank you for your support. I know I didn't reply to everyone, but I appreciate each of your comments and good thoughts. It really does mean a lot.

I'll keep y'all updated, positive or negative.

-Joel


Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Neul View Post
If you are experiencing ringing in the ear it sounds like you are especially sensitive to noise. You can buy cheap ear muffs anywhere. You might get several of them and keep them wherever you might work.
I've had mild ringing for probably a few years. Maybe 5 or 6 years. Tough to keep track. I like the idea of getting multiple sets of protectors and putting them wherever I might need them. Thanks, Steve.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Robson Valley View Post
4. The absolute worst of all? "Aural Cognitive Disfunction." The worst of the worst. Let's suppose that you are standing in front of me, speaking clearly enough and loudly enough. The sounds that you make do not match word-sounds in my head. I can't figure out what you're saying. My kids are almost 40-somethings, hard to have any kind of a conversation.
I can't even imagine, Brian. That's gotta be really tough!

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Originally Posted by johnep1934 View Post
Get an Otovent to clear out any blockage.
I hadn't heard of these. I'll run them by my ENT in a few weeks and see what he says.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pineknot_86 View Post
I'm adamant about hearing protection while working in the shop with my grandsons or while shooting.
Thanks for this. We're going to be getting some small ear muffs for my daughter. She's not around a lot when I work in the shop or driveway, but I want her to develop good habits now so there's no problems later!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Frye View Post
All I can suggest (other than seeing medical professionals) is to wear hearing protection when doing woodworking with power tools.
Thanks, Jim. I bought some of the squishy in ear protectors while I decide on an over-the-ear style protector. I'm sure I'll get a few and put them around my shop so I can always find a pair.

Quote:
Originally Posted by new2woodwrk View Post
Having been a musician for 35+ years and playing very loud R&R as well as attending some of the loudest rock concerts on record during the 60's 70's and 80's, as well as being a SCUBA instructor for 20+ years and damaged my inner ear on a few up and down dives, I feel your pain and concerns

I have tinnitus and have had since my late 20's, I've learned to live it with it myself and fortunately it has not gotten worse with age and time (I'm now 60)

I do not wear a hearing aid.

A few things that have occurred to me that have affected my hearing significantly in recent years aside from the above mentioned were:
  1. Spa/Jacuzzi's are terrible for the ear ...
  2. Last year I went to the doctor for an unrelated issue. During the exam, he mentioned to me my ears had a significant wax build up and do I want him to clean them. ...
I'm sure the ENT Dr. you went to was top notch, but sometimes Dr.'s can be singularly focused and may not have examined contributing factors.
No jacuzzis here, but wax buildup is a wonderful perk of being in my family. The ENT (top notch, for sure) didn't say that I had any buildup. Surprised me that wax wasn't part of it, to be honest!

Quote:
Originally Posted by difalkner View Post
Amazingly, the band sounds good even though half of the players can't hear - LOL!
Thanks for this, David. In another life, I was a music teacher and saxophonist. It feels good to know that there's life after hearing problems!
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post #16 of 22 Old 03-28-2018, 09:52 PM
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People poke fun at me because I wear those big giant ear muffs at work and they have to really yell at me to get my attention. I want to keep my hearing as good as I'll still be needing it for quite a while. Loud music and power tools can certainly take their toll, though I still love both. I can wear ear protection when working however the Pillows deserve to be loud, so there's that. I'll either learn or go deaf, we'll find out.
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post #17 of 22 Old 03-28-2018, 10:09 PM
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A person can have ringing in the ear for other reasons than loud noises. Causes range from age related hearing loss to high blood pressure. Only a doctor can get to the bottom of it.
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post #18 of 22 Old 03-28-2018, 10:15 PM
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Yes, people laugh at me too. I am forever working on one project or another, and I will stuff anything into my ears- usually wadded up pieces of paper towel or TP. I have muffs for the big jobs like miter saw, etc.
But I will plug ears when using vaccuum cleaner, blender, or any loud machinery. And if I find myself with a group at a concert or outdoor bar band that is blasting enough to make your teeth rattle, I'll stick my fingers in and let them all look.
My hearing isn't fantastic, but I sure don't want it any worse.
People's hearing starts to gradually go downhill from the age of around 11, and its mostly due to damage from loud noises. Save your ears, when they're gone they're gone.

As far as a one-time event, as long as it wasn't a cannon blast your chances of your hearing coming back over the long run are pretty good. Its the cumulative effect that does the real damage.
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post #19 of 22 Old 03-28-2018, 10:28 PM
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Glad the pressure is easing!

Sandy leaves for work about 6:45 every morning and I head to the shop. The very first thing I do is put my Howard Leight QB2 ear plugs around my neck and I use them for everything, even if I'm running the ROS for 30 seconds. They stay around my neck until late at night when I know I'm through in the shop. I wear them to stores, to run errands, even wore them a couple of times to band practice at church! Forgot they were around my neck.

If we're going to do any planing, more than a few minutes, then I use the roll-up spongy type along with some 35db reducing ear muffs. Can't hear squat with all that on! If Sandy is helping me she's wearing the same thing and we use hand signals because we get tired of yelling to each other (not 'at', to...).

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Hearing Loss... Guidance and Ideas Requested-howard-leight-qb2.jpg

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post #20 of 22 Old 03-29-2018, 09:56 AM
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My father used to say that "Getting old is not for sissies." Welcome to the club. From now until the end, parts of your body will become defective or break, and the supply of fixes and spare parts is limited. You won't be able to fix everything, even with surgery, and will have to learn to adapt to the new reality of the limitations your body imposes on you. The older you get, the more it happens. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news.

Something similar happened to me. One day, my ears felt "stuffy" and my hearing wasn't quite as acute as it was. Particularly my right ear. I did go to an ENT specialist, an audiologist, and other doctors. More than a decade later, the "stuffy" feeling is still there. There is nothing to be done but live with it. I get sinus infections every few years or so; I never used to get them. I have been told that the drainage tubes between our ears, nose, eyes, and throat can get smaller or close up as we age.

In addition, I have ridden motorcycles all my life. Even the quietest helmets are loud enough to damage your hearing at freeway speeds, even if you have a windscreen. I am good about hearing protection now, but the early years may be catching up with me. Furthermore, my father's hearing declined with age, and he was never exposed to loud noises.

For a long time, I have been very strict about hearing protection on the motorcycle and in the shop.

One thing that helps improve my hearing is to remove the wax buildup from my ears using a rubber bulb ear syringe. This is VERY dangerous to your eardrums, and can also damage your hearing. Let the doctors teach you how to do it. I have gotten good at it from necessity. We have a familial problem with wax buildup, too. I do not do it often, perhaps a few times a year. I use warm water in the shower. Make sure someone is standing by in case it makes you dizzy. Most people just let the water dry on its own, but I don't like the feeling of water in my ears. When I am done, I rinse out each ear with a small capful of rubbing alcohol, which I pour in, wiggle around to coat the inside, and then tip my ear to pour it out immediately. It evaporates quickly to clear the water from my ears. (Warning: Keep the alcohol away from your eyes, and the sudden cold can make you very dizzy. I don't get dizzy, so it works for me.)

The bottom line is that nearly all people experience age-related hearing loss, particularly at higher frequencies. That includes you and me. I hope this helps.
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