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Safety First by Kelly-Mare Korcek (Senior Audiologist)

Safety First by Kelly Mare Korcek (Senior Audiologist)

Each morning, when waving me off to work, my 8-year-old son has a little habit of cheekily reaching through the car window and locking the door. He always says with a mischievous smile ”Safety first mum!”.

And as I drove off today, it struck me how important safety is and just how important our hearing is to our safety.

Awareness of sound as well as seeing what is around us as we travel in a car is actually quite vital to staying alive and preventing an accident. While most people with some form of hearing loss can still hear traffic, they may not hear important sounds such as ambulance or police sirens. This may be because a lot of the hearing loss I see is where hearing in the high pitch areas is worse than in the low pitch areas. This is often the product of noise damage or ageing. This then makes hearing higher-pitched warning sounds almost impossible.

And, quite often those people driving around with their indicator still flicking do have some form of hearing loss. I know this because one of the most common comments I hear after a patient is fitted with hearing aids is “I can hear my indicator clicking in the car now!” One patient added his ribs were less bruised now that his wife doesn’t need to elbow him to turn it off.

Hearing is also important safety-wise for localisation. This means knowing where a sound is coming from. When a sound from the right hits your right ear, your head creates a barrier to the sound so that it only arrives at the left ear a few milliseconds later. The brain then very cleverly, and in the shortest amount of time, can figure out that the sound is coming from the right side. This is important to know when we are crossing a road, or a dog is barking and running up towards us or even knowing when your 8-year-old is sneaking up behind you to say boo!

Having hearing loss, especially if one ear is worse than the other can significantly affect this. This means you may look around to the wrong side first when hearing someone talking or a car approaching. It is even harder when you have no hearing in one ear altogether and perfect hearing in the other.

Hearing devices today are so clever that they can actually help you improve your localisation and therefore your safety as well. This happens automatically as we program into the aid the correct amount of volume you need for every pitch to give you speech clarity and also safety!

If you have noticed some trouble hearing warning signs, the indicator (with or without bruised ribs) or knowing where a sound is coming from, it might be a good idea to get your hearing checked. We offer free hearing tests for any adult and are open at Norwood, Unley and Salisbury. Simply call 8331 8047 or click on this link to make your appointment today.

It’s never too late to play it safe!



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