Does it seem like people around you are mumbling more than usual? When you are in a loud, busy restaurant, do you find it hard to understand what people are saying? Do others complain that you have the volume too high?
If so, you might be one of the 20% of adults in the U.S. with hearing loss. If you are 65 or older, your risk is for hearing loss is higher as one in three people have some hearing loss in their later years.
Causes of Hearing Loss
The most common causes of hearing loss are overexposure to loud noises and aging. As we age, changes can occur in our inner ear that cause slow but steady hearing loss. Age related hearing loss, presbycusis, is always permanent.
Hearing loss caused by noise happens either slowly over time, or suddenly. Someone who is exposed to loud noises frequently may not notice hearing loss for many years, but the damage is silently adding up.
“People damage their ears without knowing it by doing everyday tasks like running the lawnmower and working with a table saw,” says a provider with TMH Medical Clinic.
Have you ever attended a loud concert and left with a buzzing or ringing in your ears? This sensation indicates that some hair cells have died in your cochlea, or inner ear, and consequently damage has occurred.
“Men in our community trap shoot or work in places that expose them to loud noises, like driving trucks or working in the coal mines. It’s important they limit their exposure to loud noises and wear ear protection,” says a TMH Medical Clinic provider.
If you answered yes to some of the questions above, it’s time to get your hearing checked. Start with your family physician to rule out temporary causes of hearing loss, including excessive wax build up or infection. If your doctor suspects permanent hearing loss, he or she will likely send you for a hearing test.
If you have mild hearing loss you may choose to wait on treatment. For more moderate to severe cases, hearing aids are the solution and they’ve been greatly improved in recent years. Cochlear implant surgery is reserved for serious cases.
Kids and Hearing Loss
Occasionally children are born with congenital hearing loss, and chronic ear infections can lead to temporary or permanent hearing loss. If your child has frequent ear infections you may want to request a hearing test.
According to a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association, one in five teens have some level of hearing loss from listening to loud music through their ear buds.
As a parent, monitor your child’s use of earphones. Limit the amount of time they listen each day (no more than 2 to 4 hours) and limit the volume level. Also, spend the extra money on quality earphones that are noise-isolating with safe sound output and smooth frequency.