Is Hitting the Links Damaging Your Hearing
It should come as no surprise to anyone that a large percentage of the patients visiting our offices enjoy spending their leisure time on the links. After a recent complaint from a new patient who entered our office whose primary complaint was the sharp crack of of his driver as it made contact with his ball. After further questioning, it was revealed that the patient in question was using a titanium club and his primary complaint was from when he would tee off with his new driver. Not only was his hearing a question for this patient, but he also noticed a ringing in his ears that was becoming more and more troublesome for him. Not only that, he noticed he was having to ask people to repeat themselves a bit more than usual. As he was still a working professional (an IT Consultant), it was important to him that he understand what was being said. Especially in business meetings.
Curiosity = piqued
As is the case with most professionals, when they are presented with a question they're not sure of, they investigate. We were led to a recent publication in the British Medical Journal Golf and Hearing Loss that helped us figure out the root of this patient's concern. According to the article, those fancy titanium clubs can cause quite the disruption upon making contact with the ball.
Now it's getting clearer
Now everything started making sense. Noise-induced hearing loss can cause the tinnitus (ringing of the ears) that was the patient's secondary complaint. The patient's hearing evaluation revealed a bilateral mild-moderate sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL), and a mild case of tinnitus at around 6000 hz. The patient was fit with a trial of the Oh! Wow instruments and were programmed to include an outdoor program, a background noise filter, and a sophisticated integration with his iPhone to allow him to maximize his full hearing potential. A an added courtesy, we provided him with some noise-filtering ear protection for the tee box and any other instances of noise exposure.
At his follow up a couple of weeks later, the patient was extremely pleased with his improved hearing, and his wife even left us a nice little thank you note. Seems it wasn't just the workplace that had been a concern.
The good news in all of this is it seems some of our patients are better golfers than we are, as we typically spend out time on the course searching for our balls in the woods.