Did You Know?
- 5 in 10 young people listen to their music or other audio too loudly.
- 4 in 10 young people are around dangerously loud noises during concerts and sporting events.
- 48 million people in the U.S. have trouble hearing with one or both of their ears.
Hearing loss does not discriminate — it affects both old and young alike. And although a common problem for older adults, with one in three people between the ages of 65 and 74 experiencing hearing loss, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates approximately 17% of 12 to 19-year-olds show evidence of noise-induced hearing loss in one or both ears. The main reason? Our noisy environment.
Loud noise is the most common cause of hearing loss, whether from blaring music (are your earbuds or headphones consistently playing above 80 decibels?), lawn mowers, leaf blowers, live sporting events, rock concerts, fireworks displays or a night at the movies.
Health conditions, such as diabetes, high blood pressure and heart issues, along with some medications — including aspirin consumed in large doses — can also contribute to hearing loss.
Other reasons for hearing loss include earwax buildup, a punctured ear drum, and heredity. All can play a role in hearing problems both at birth or later in life.
Signs of Hearing Loss
Often we compensate for hearing problems without realizing there is an issue. If you find yourself turning up the volume on the TV more often, complaining that others mumble or ask people to repeat what they are saying, you might consider having your hearing checked.
If the last time you remember having your hearing checked was a mandatory grade school test, then it’s time to schedule one. This can be your baseline test so you and your doctor can compare future tests, assess any hearing loss and treat appropriately.
Hearing loss is treatable with hearing aids, cochlear implants, bone-anchored hearing systems and assistive listening devices.
- Hearing aids — custom-programmed small electronic devices that amplify sounds.
- Cochlear implants — surgically implanted neuroprosthesis that, rather than amplify sound, provides the sense of sound by stimulating the auditory nerve.
- Bone-anchored hearing systems — surgically implanted devices that treat hearing loss through bone conduction of sound vibrations to the inner ear.
- Assisted listening devices — these enable personal connections to other devices and include amplified phones, hearing aid compatible phones and smartphones, TV devices and alerting devices for doorbells, alarm clocks, and smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
Consequences of Untreated Hearing Loss
In addition to the safety aspects of not being able to hear clearly — oncoming trains at a crossing, tornado sirens and other weather alerts, and smoke alarms — hearing loss can negatively impact your health and well-being. Research shows that people with hearing loss have higher rates of anxiety and depression. It also can cause auditory deprivation, which is the brain losing the ability to process sound.
It’s never too late to protect your hearing. Wearing hearing protection and adopting a healthier lifestyle will safeguard the sense that allows us to enjoy the laughter of loved ones and keep us connected to the world around us.