Those involved in law enforcement are exposed to a variety of high-noise sources, including sirens, gunfire, traffic, motorcycle engines, a barking K9 partner, and radio chatter, so it’s important to protect your hearing and watch for signs of hearing loss.
“Gradual hearing loss can affect people of all ages,” says Jennifer Kimberly, Au.D., C.C.C.-A., a licensed audiologist at Kelsey-Seybold Clinic’s Clear Lake Clinic and Berthelsen Main Campus. “There are a number of warning signs associated with hearing loss.”
She says initial indicators of hearing loss usually include:
- Frequent ringing in your ears.
- Often asking people to repeat themselves in daily conversations.
- Trouble hearing normal household sounds such as the doorbell or telephone.
- Turning up the volume on the television, radio, or computer.
- Trouble hearing consonants.
- Perceiving speech and other sounds as muffled or lacking clarity.
- Difficulty understanding words, especially against background noise or in a crowd of people.
Common causes of hearing loss
“Causes include prolonged exposure to loud noise or progressive loss due to the aging process,” Dr. Kimberly says. “However, because medical issues may be contributing to hearing loss, it’s advisable to be examined by an Ear, Nose, and Throat (ENT) specialist for evidence of ear infections, ruptured eardrums, or excessive earwax.”
She says getting a hearing evaluation from a qualified hearing care professional is the best way to find out if your hearing problems are serious enough to be a danger to you or the public.
“Since hearing loss is cumulative and develops over time, minimizing those moments of exposure to unsafe sound by wearing hearing custom-fit protection whenever possible may help significantly as you continue to work to make our community a safer place,” Dr. Kimberly says.