Burnie truck driver losing hearing after years at port

Burnie truck driver suffers hearing loss after years at port

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Hearing found: Burnie truck driver Ronnalt Jungbauer noticed his hearing start to disappear about 15 years ago after years of exposure to noisy machinery. A set of bluetooth-capable hearing aids have changed his life. Picture: Meg Powell

Hearing found: Burnie truck driver Ronnalt Jungbauer noticed his hearing start to disappear about 15 years ago after years of exposure to noisy machinery. A set of bluetooth-capable hearing aids have changed his life. Picture: Meg Powell

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Protect your hearing, Ronnalt Jungbauer warns

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Ronnalt Jungbauer first noticed he kept losing track of the conversations around him about 15 years ago.

The truck driver from Burnie said he started to feel left out, and began to retreat further and further into silence.

"I was constantly asking, what did they say? What did they say?" he said.

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"You just end up out of the loop, and then you keep silent because you haven't got anything to say because you don't know what the conversation is about."

Mr Jungbauer said he did nothing at first, "shrugging it off" for a few years, until he finally decided to get a hearing test.

The tests confirmed what he had already suspected.

I took everything for granted. Do you have to get old before you realise this stuff? - Ronnalt Jungbauer

Nearly 40 years of driving noisy trucks without protection to a very loud port had taken a toll on his ears.

"In this day and age, the trucks are all insulated and they aren't that loud," he said.

"In the olden days it wasn't like that at all. They didn't have muffs. Even the mill at the port was a lot louder back then.

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"You couldn't hear the radio over the road noise."

He said the noise levels a protective gear was much improved these days, as was the gear.

"Sometimes people don't like to use the muffs," he said.

"If you want to keep it, protect it. I took everything for granted.

"Do you have to get old before you realise this stuff?"

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Audiology partner at Specsavers in Burnie and Devonport Dr Janine Pisula said hearing loss was a common problem in the North-West.

"It's not just tradies, there's a lot in the farming community, the pulp mill, shooters," she said.

"It's exposure to really loud sounds that are over 80 decibels...it causes damage to the little hairs in the cochlea.

"With repeated exposure...those little hair cells won't regenerate. The damage is permanent."

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Dr Pisula said, for patients like Mr Jungbauer, the loss was irreversible, but that hearing aids could go a long way to improving quality of life.

Now the proud owner of two hearing aids he controls with an app on his phone, Mr Jungbauer said he was immensely grateful for the way the technology had changed his life.

"I can't say anything horrible now, he'll hear me from the next room." his girlfriend, Julie, joked.

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The story Burnie truck driver losing hearing after years at port first appeared on The Advocate.

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