Audio Blog: Hearing Loss with Dr. Franklin

ENT Dr. Franklin joins us to discuss the symptoms of hearing loss, its different stages, how to protect your hearing, and why hearing aids shouldn't get such a bad rap.

Shelby Stockton:
Welcome to the Texas ENT Audio blog. I'm Shelby Stockton. Today I talk to Texas ENT otologist. Dr. Daniel J. Franklin. Today is all about hearing loss, it's signs and symptoms, age versus noise induced hearing loss, and why it's important to recognize people who suffer from hearing loss as it's not as obvious as other physical issues.

Shelby Stockton:
Hi, Dr. Franklin, how are you?

Dr. Daniel J. Franklin:
I'm great. How are you?

Shelby Stockton:
I'm fantastic. Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to talk to us today.

Dr. Daniel J. Franklin:
Glad to do it.

Shelby Stockton:
So you are an otologist. Could you explain to me what that is?

Dr. Daniel J. Franklin:
It's basically an ear, nose, and throat dog with a special interest in the ear.

Shelby Stockton:
So you deal with a lot of issues with hearing loss.

Dr. Daniel J. Franklin:
Correct.

Shelby Stockton:
So what exactly like ... Does everyone get hearing loss? What's the baseline on hearing loss and who gets it and why?

Dr. Daniel J. Franklin:
Well, you get hearing loss for whole lots of different reasons, but over time, your hearing can deteriorate. So if you live long enough, chances are pretty good that eventually you'll face some problems interacting with people and hearing what people have to say.

Shelby Stockton:
Right. I've noticed that with my own parents. It seems kind of inevitable if you have the fortune to continue to walk this planet as you get older.

Dr. Daniel J. Franklin:
That's correct. Yeah, I think we face our limitations at some point.

Shelby Stockton:
Yeah. Right, right. What are some common signs of hearing loss, if you're the actual person who's going through it?

Dr. Daniel J. Franklin:
Basically. Well, a lot of people notice that they may have stuffiness in their ears, but you basically just have more trouble hearing sounds around you and trouble interacting with the people around you, and it can be somewhat subtle over time, or it can be abrupt. For the elderly, a lot of times you just see them withdraw more, but one of the problems that we have is it's hard to look at somebody and tell they have a hearing loss, whereas if you're having trouble seeing, it's pretty easy for you to tell, well, certain individuals are having trouble seeing, or if you have trouble with your knee or your hip, you can see people limping around. But hearing loss is kind of a silent disease, and until you try to interact of somebody, a lot of times you don't notice that they're having trouble. And the concern that we have is that people just tend to withdraw because they have more difficulty interacting.

Shelby Stockton:
That's right. I also read somewhere that people who experience hearing loss also have issues with depression, they can, have issues with depression and dementia actually.

Dr. Daniel J. Franklin:
Right. Because they're not getting the stimulation they need, and you get some brain atrophy over time because you're not involved with the hearing world. And so my goal really in what I do is to try to keep people involved and interacting with people and contributing to the hearing world.

Shelby Stockton:
So what are some options for people that are experiencing hearing loss?

Dr. Daniel J. Franklin:
Well, the first thing they need is a good history and physical examination to try to diagnose where the problem is and what type of problem it is, and then we can talk about different treatments. Sometimes it's a medical treatment, sometimes it's a hearing aid, sometimes it's surgery, but until you actually examine the patient, talk to them, talk to the family, you really have a hard time answering that question. So the basic first step is to see a doctor that's experienced in hearing loss and to get a good examination. And the other test that you need is what we call an audiogram where you go into a soundproof booth and the audiologist tests the hearing, tests the middle ear pressures and they test the hearing.

Shelby Stockton:
Okay. Summer is coming up and people are getting back to real life, as we fully go back to pre pandemic stuff. And you're hearing a lot about noise exposure hearing loss. Now what is that compare to like ...?

Dr. Daniel J. Franklin:
Well, I mean, there are all different types of noise exposure, but basically it's a pressure to the ear that potentially can cause some damage. And that can be from music, it can be from gunfire, it can be from firecrackers, it can be from explosions, but it's basically a physical blast to the ear that can cause some damage, some of which can be temporary, some of which potentially can be permanent.

Shelby Stockton:
So what exactly happens inside the ear with a really loud noise?

Dr. Daniel J. Franklin:
Well, it sends a basically kind of a large wave into the cochlea, which can damage some of those very delicate little hair cells inside there, and you get what we call a temporary and permanent threshold shift where your hearing is not as good, sometimes you have some ringing in your ear, and then it gradually improves to a certain extent, but you may be left with some permanent damage. And we see it in young kids that are going hunting without hearing protection, we see it in people that are exposed to a loud noise from different types of music, and you also see it from blasts, like from firecrackers and fireworks and things like that.

Shelby Stockton:
Okay. Well, these are all things that could be happening this summer. What would you tell people who are going to go out and enjoy these kinds of events?

Dr. Daniel J. Franklin:
Just to be mindful and to protect their hearing. If they're going to be around loud noises, find some form of hearing protection. It could be simple ear plugs, some plug that you put in your ears. There are different headsets that people can wear when they're shooting rifles and things like that. But basically just to minimize the blast to your ear.

Shelby Stockton:
And also this reminds me like AirPods, like earphones. Sometimes we blast those up too high and we don't realize it.

Dr. Daniel J. Franklin:
That's exactly right. It doesn't have to be something ... What counts is how loud the sound is at your eardrum level.

Shelby Stockton:
Okay.

Dr. Daniel J. Franklin:
It could be from something like an insert you put in your ear and you're wearing it too loud, or it could be an explosion that is around you.

Shelby Stockton:
What would you say to a potential new patient who might be afraid to come into your office because they don't want to hear any bad news?

Dr. Daniel J. Franklin:
Well, I think there's a lot of things we can do to help people, and I wouldn't let that fear keep you from getting help. And so the tests that we do and the things that we do are not painful, and in general, we have a lot to offer people and I think that they should kind of put that fear aside and go through the process to continue being part of the hearing world.

Shelby Stockton:
That's great advice. Thank you so much, Dr. Franklin.

Dr. Daniel J. Franklin:
You're more than welcome.

Shelby Stockton:
Again for taking time out of your day.

Dr. Daniel J. Franklin:
You bet.


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