Sensitivity & Sound

Isn't it a little peculiar & strange how when we get older, our hearing actually appears to be more sensitive, as the TV seems to sound a little too loud, while simultaneously being too low? What in the paradox is going on here? Let's investigate and get to the bottom of this auditory mystery. 

So, why does it seem like this dichotomy does indeed appear to exist? To get straight to the barebones, it is actually the fact that within our inner ears,, our hair cells and nerve fibers actually slowly deteriorate over time. This is actually known as hyperacusis and it is, in general, a distortion of many versions of how our ears interact and interpret the vibrations of sound. Interestingly enough, this may affect both ears at different rates, with perhaps sometimes only on ear being affected as heavily by its environment. Some particularly triggerig sounds are often ambulance sirens, loud televisions, blasting music and machines in action. 

Did you know that hearing is not only impaired as we age, but also when one becomes pregnant, as well! Why would this be though? The National Library of Medicine filled us in on the science of what’s really going on in this situation. Apparently, the “eustachian tube dysfunction may be due to patulous tube during pregnancy when there is inadequate weight gain. They present most often during the 3rd trimester with symptoms of intermittent autophony, and roaring which gets worse with decongestants and upright position. Symptoms improve in supine position and increased humidity. Tympanic membrane examination shows fluttering during respiration, bulge during expiration and retraction during inspiration. Pure tone audiogram is usually normal. Reassurance and steam inhalation is given. It resolves after parturition”. So, all signs point to pregnancy hearing impairment being seemingly only temporary, which is wonderful news because isn’t a new baby in the household enough?

Many of you may have adopted the methods of prevention and care in order to avoid certain outcomes and effects in one’s life. Could this work for potential future hearing impairment? Even better, is it potentially reversible? When it comes to reversing time, the CDC informed us that “In some cases, hearing loss can be temporary. However, it can become permanent when vital parts of the ear have been damaged beyond repair. Damage to any part of the ear can lead to hearing loss. Loud noise is particularly harmful to the inner ear (cochlea).” So, it’s not looking too good when it comes to wanting to reverse father time, as often there is damage that simply cannot be undone. There is some light at the end of the tunnel though when it comes to prevention. First, avoid high volumes of sound, as this is indeed a major player in your ear’s permanent dysfunction. As musicians and music lovers, we know this is an incredibly massive task and sometimes those front row seats and shockingly loud concerts seem worth it, but you may regret it later, so be sure to make wise decisions, keep the volume & your ear fatigue to a minimum and an extra pair of earplugs in your back pocket.