Hearing loss is one of the most significant public health issues in our society. About one-fifth of Americans report a degree of hearing loss. That is 48 million people who find hearing challenging in a society built for those with healthy hearing. What’s more, the incidence of hearing loss increases as people age. By age 65, one out of every three people has hearing loss.
Hearing loss is both a normal part of the aging process and also a condition that needs to be managed. If left undiagnosed and untreated, hearing loss can lead to feelings of isolation and depression. For that reason, it’s important to be careful of the conditions our ears are exposed to and to be aware of the state of our hearing health at every age and life stage.
Age related hearing loss
Perhaps one of the most common forms of hearing loss is that which occurs gradually and over time. Time takes a toll on the sensitive cells of the inner ear. It’s these sensitive cells that do much of the on-the-ground heavy lifting of our hearing system. It is here that sound information is received then communicated to the brain via the auditory nerve.
When these cells fall prey to the natural deterioration of aging, less sound information is received. Hearing loss does not appear as an overall lowering of volume, but subtle damage to the inner ear cells are reflected in subtle changes to the way we perceive sound. This is why age-related hearing loss often presents itself first as the distortion of noise frequencies. This type of hearing loss is often unnoticed and undiagnosed for many years because of its surprisingly subtle presentation.
Noise induced hearing loss
A second cause of hearing loss that is equally pervasive and much more preventable, noise induced hearing loss can occur once in a single traumatic incident or over time in a gradual manner. We often associate noise induced hearing loss with that related to a dangerously loud workplace, like a military base or factory. And, this type of workplace exposure to loud sounds is a concern. 22 million American workers are exposed to excessive noise every year.
However, we are also at risk of dangerous noise in our leisure time, too. Nearly a quarter of US adults between the ages of 20 and 69 years old has features in their hearing test suggesting noise-induced hearing loss. Our entertainments keep increasing in volume. Think of how often we are plugged in, via earbud or headphones, to a sound device. Those volume levels creep up over time, potentially damaging our hearing with each use.
In fact, danger is so obvious and ubiquitous that the World Health Organization recently issued a warning over the extensive damage 1.1 billion teenagers worldwide are doing to their ears by unsafe use of personal audio devices and noisy entertainment venues.
Notice to interrupt
One way to prevent hearing loss in our own lives is to be mindful of the listening environments we are in. If our workplace is dangerously noisy, we can take steps to seek changes to reduce harm. When our devices are consistently set to risky volumes, we can intercede by mindfully regulating back to a safe range.
If you are evaluating whether you have been exposed to dangerous noise, ask yourself three questions:
- There is a ringing or humming in your ears
- You must shout to be heard by someone within an arm’s length
- You experience temporary hearing loss
Get your hearing tested at Atlanta Hearing Doctor
If you think hearing loss is affecting your life, don’t hesitate to get tested with us at Atlanta Hearing Doctor. Beyond protecting our ears, another way to successful reduce the impact of hearing loss is to intervene when possible. Leaving hearing loss undiagnosed or untreated can have a significant negative impact on mental and emotional health. Human beings are social creatures and a need to connect is at our very core. When hearing loss interrupts our natural inclination to seek relationship and communication, we can engage in harmful isolating behaviors that negate our very self-worth.
Instead, have a conversation with us at Atlanta Hearing Doctor about treating hearing loss. We will be able to find the unique solution that suits your pattern of hearing loss and your lifestyle.