13 Years Experience
I've been an audiologist for 13 years. I work with all types of patients, focusing on vestibular (balance) disorders and hearing aids. As I have worked in an Ear, Nose, Throat setting much of my career, I am also exposed to much of the medical side of audiology. ASK ME ANYTHING about being an audiologist.
DISCLAIMER: If you feel that you have a hearing or balance issue, please be sure to see your local ENT or audiologist. This Q&A is not designed to treat or diagnose your problems.
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I can see the benefit from sonic weapons, however, an audiologist is probably not going to be on the top of the list for people asked about its benefits. Military is working on recovery for sudden hearing loss, so eventually, maybe sonic weapons won't be as effective down the line. Just a guess.
Generally, the answer is no. However, each time you go to a concert, cilia (receptor hair cells) do get damaged. If you were to have a hearing test prior to the concert and after, the odds of a hearing loss appearing are small. There are plenty of instances where a loud concert can cause permanent hearing loss, just like any other form of traumatic event to your ears (i.e. explosions, head injuries, etc). To avoid this, be sure to wear hearing protection to concerts. I'm a huge hard rock fan; I rarely feel my experience is hindered due to wearing "plugs".
It depends upon what you are using them for. I have many patients who are professional or amateur musicians who do find extreme benefit with custom ear plugs. Many of them enjoy the interchangeable filters, offering different levels of protection depending upon what activity they may be engaged in. As someone with custom plugs, I do notice the difference. The firm seal of custom molds gives the user confidence that sound will not leak in. They also won't fall out.
I used to use Mac's Ear Plugs. Simple and inexpensive. However, please be sure to follow instructions on how to insert them. Many people will try to place them deep into the ear canal; this is not appropriate and can be dangerous.
Casino DealerHow do you prove that someone is card-counting?
SWAT Team Commander (Retired)How much protection do those bomb disposal suits really provide?
Radio program/music directorJust how good of a radio host do you think Howard Stern is?
Some audiologists specialize in balance disorders and treatment. However, please be sure to have an evaluation of your balance system first. Go to an Ear, Nose, Throat specialist that has an audiologist who performs vestibular testing (not all do). Depending on the findings and case history, results may indicate that vestibular rehabilitation (balance therapy) is beneficial. There are specialized audiologists (as noted above), but more commonly, specialized physical therapists who can create programs to improve one's balance.
The million dollar question. This cannot be answered in a couple of sentences or even a paragraph. Much goes into whether a hearing aid is effective. A few factors include: 1) the patient's hearing loss and ability to discriminate speech. People with poor speech discrimination will have difficulty understanding with or without hearing aids. As inner hair cells of the ear die, they cannot be recovered. Thus, presenting loud sound may not be enough to make things "clear". Certain newer technologies combat this. 2) the product that a patient gets. Unfortunately, people will value money over performance all too often with hearing aids, and they pay for it in the end. The hearing aids purchased must fit a person's lifestyle. By lifestyle, I mean social lifestyle. A homebody will require a much less sophisticated hearing aid than someone who is social and active. This does result in a different price point, often significant. Yet some will buckle over the price. Other issues include the cosmetic component. Many "smaller" or "invisible" hearing aids have limitations, such as fewer directional microphones, shorter battery lives, or simply less power output. Getting a small hearing aid is not always appropriate given certain types of loss. 3) Education. This is the most important part of the process. Yes, hearing aids work, as many audiologists can attest. Yet the patient needs to truly understand that hearing aids are part of a rehabilitation process. Simply putting on hearing aids does not "make it all better". As the ears are learning to re-hear, many patients will indicate that things are loud or annoying, etc.. Having the hearing aids turned down or lowered for comfort prematurely will often result in poorer speech audibility and understanding. A good audiologist should indicate to the patient that things will be very different with hearing aids, but not perfect. While designed for speech intelligibility, hearing aids cannot choose specifically what a person wants to hear. They cannot "get rid of" all background noise. They cannot overcome massive amounts of background noise. They need to be worn all of the time to experience benefit. They need to wear two if appropriate. They need to be cleaned regularly. But the bottom line is that for hearing aids to be successful, you need three things. 1) A willing and understanding patient, 2) a good audiologist to help facilitate and assist in the rehabilitation process, and 3) the right pair of hearing aids to fit the patient's loss appropriately.
While I do not know the specifics, I do believe that soldiers are monitored by their local VA's to monitor their hearing. I am aware that research is being performed to address sudden onset hearing loss via a pill. However, I am sure, as with any occupation using firearms, there are risks of hearing loss. I have often been told by military and police, etc., that wearing hearing protection is not realistic given that they must respond to commands and orders in the field. So I guess that this is what happens. This article pretty much sums it up: http://www.military.com/news/article/army-fights-hearing-loss-in-soldiers.html
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