Hearing loss is a common condition in the United States, but with proper care and treatment, you can still retain your active lifestyle. Treating hearing loss with the use of hearing aids comes with many benefits – from improving the quality of your interpersonal relationships to ensuring your safety. Personal safety is often compromised with hearing loss, as a diminished sense of hearing could put you in harm’s way. This is especially true with driving and untreated hearing loss.
Here, we take a look at the complications of untreated hearing loss and provide some tips on driving with hearing loss.
Hearing Loss and Your Mobility
Studies have shown that those with untreated hearing loss tend to have limited mobility, due to difficulties with speech recognition and locating sound. Untreated hearing loss also adversely affects one’s personal safety, as it tends to disconnect people from the world around them.
For this reason, people with untreated hearing loss have been found to have a limited “life space,” perhaps due to a lack of confidence in their abilities to go beyond the few places that they feel comfortable. In part, hearing loss impedes our ability to be aware of environment, which is especially important when it comes to driving.
Get Your Eyesight Checked
Vision is possibly the most important sense when it comes to driving. Make sure that you visit your eye doctor annually to test your vision and ensure that your glasses/contact lens prescriptions are all up to date. Polarized sunglasses or antireflective lenses are useful if you are driving in the daytime and have light sensitivity. If you have poor vision, consider limiting your time on the road during the evening.
Check Your Medications
If you are taking medication for different medical conditions, be sure to check the side effects. In some cases, medications could make you drowsy or light-headed, which would interfere with your ability to drive safely. Additionally, some medications could affect your vision or hearing. If you’ve noticed changes in these senses, talk to your physician.
Make Adjustments for Your Physical Comfort
If you’re driving long distances, consider that stiffness could make driving uncomfortable. Adjust your seats and mirrors accordingly to accommodate any physical challenges that may arise. You may also replace mirrors in your car with larger ones. Talk to your car dealership about power steering and equipment to help with braking and operating your car’s pedals. These could help make your driving experience more comfortable.
Untreated hearing loss could contribute to concentration issues and could affect your coordination. Be sure to seek treatment for hearing loss as soon as possible. Even when driving with hearing aids, make sure that you have eliminate a lot of the distractions in your vehicle.
Turn air conditioning and heat down to the lowest settings, as the wind sounds could prove distracting. If you must have music or radio playing, turn it down low. Activate any hands-free wireless devices you may be using during your drive, such as Bluetooth for your smartphone.
Signs that You May Have a Hearing Loss
As an invisible condition, it is often difficult to identify that you have a hearing loss. The AARP offers a list of common signs of hearing loss:
- Asking people to speak up or repeat themselves;
- Thinking people are mumbling when they speak;
- Difficulty understanding speech or hearing sounds when there is background noise;
- Experiencing ringing noises in your ears;
- People telling you that you are not paying attention in conversations;
- Difficulty understanding speech from a different from in the house;
- History of hearing loss in the family;
- Difficulty hearing on the telephone;
- Difficulty determining where sounds come from;
- Difficulty understanding voices of women and children; and
- Turning up the volume on your devices.
If you have experienced one or more of these signs, then you may be experiencing a hearing loss. In the same way you’d get your eyes checked annually, do the same with your hearing. Our hearing abilities are constantly changing, and we may not notice the appearance of hearing loss right away. Even those with hearing aids should take an annual hearing test, as adjustments to their aids may be necessary to keep them safe.
Visit Us at Active Hearing and Audiology
There are many devices and accessories available to make your hearing experience easier as you drive. Visit us at Active Hearing and Audiology for your annual hearing exam and to learn more about hearing aids to reconnect you to the world around you.