Landstuhl encourages prevention during month

Spc. Todd Goodman
Landstuhl Regional Medical Center

***image1***Most people have at one point or another experienced ringing in their ears. Ever been to a concert? Well, it doesn’t take blaring rock music to damage hearing. Anything from a driving a military tactical vehicle to mowing the lawn can lead to long-term, permanent hearing loss.
May is National Better Hearing and Speech Month, and the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center’s Audiology and Speech Pathology staff have some information that may help prevent a future hearing aid.
“We can educate people on the importance of wearing hearing protection to prevent further hearing loss,” said Capt. Sara Teufert-Autrey, chief of LRMC’s Audiology Services. “If the patient already has permanent loss, we can help with rehabilitation.”
However, if good-hearing guidelines are followed, the need for hearing aids will diminish greatly.
“If you are an arm’s length away from someone and have to shout to be heard, then you are in a situation where hearing loss can occur,” said Captain Autrey.
“I lost five Decibels of hearing permanently because of a concert,” said Sgt. Brian Patrick, LRMC Audiology NCO Officer. “One concert. And mind you it was a good concert. But my ears rang for three days, and when the ringing stopped my hearing returned, but not to pre-concert levels.”
That’s an extreme example, but it doesn’t take a Metallica concert like the one Sergeant Patrick attended to damage hearing. Seemingly insignificant noises, given enough exposure to them, can lead to loss. It simply takes more time for the negative effects to show up.
“Sometimes it can take years for the damage to show up,” said Maureen Matos-Perez, LRMC staff audiologist. “And then you add on the aging process and you can really see a significant loss.”
If a person is exposed to noise levels of 85 decibels for more than eight hours without hearing protection, there is a possibility of permanent hearing loss, said Captain Teufert-Autrey.
To equate decibels with something familiar, 85 Dbs is equal to heavy traffic or a noisy restaurant. Army regulations specify that hearing protection should be worn in conditions where 85 Dbs of noise is present.
“People really tend to overlook their hearing,” said Ms. Matos-Perez. “They get their teeth and eyes checked on a regular basis but tend not to get their hearing checked. If you are around constant noise levels of 85 Decibels or higher, you need to get an annual screening at the Audiology Clinic.”
In addition to audio specialists, the clinic has speech pathologists who can assist with speech impediments such as stuttering or speech impairment associated with strokes.
Anyone with difficulties in speaking or understanding should consult the speech/language pathologist, because a communication disorder is too important to ignore.
For more information call, the LRMC Audiology and Speech Clinic at 486-8188 or 06371-86-8188.