October is Audiology Awareness Month, which makes it the perfect time to highlight a few facts about hearing loss as well as available treatment options.
Hearing Loss Facts
- Older adults are more likely to experience hearing loss. Anyone can experience hearing loss, including children. However, your risk for hearing loss increases with age. This is because as you get older, you are more likely to experience changes to your inner ear or auditory nerve that can affect hearing.
- Noise exposure is a leading cause of hearing loss. Any prolonged or repeated exposure to sounds louder than 85 decibels can cause hearing loss. That is roughly the equivalent of the volume of city traffic. Activities like attending concerts or sporting events, setting off fireworks, riding motorcycles and even listening to music too loudly through headphones or earbuds can damage your hearing.
- Hearing loss can sometimes be temporary. Not all hearing loss is permanent. Sometimes conditions like an ear infection or a buildup of earwax can cause temporary hearing loss that will resolve after the underlying condition is treated.
- Hearing loss can affect your relationships. Hearing loss makes it harder to understand speech, which makes it difficult to communicate with others. This can make it difficult to talk with your coworkers or make small talk with the barista at GoodBean Café. It can even take a toll on your relationships with your spouse, partner and other loved ones.
- Untreated hearing loss can lead to bigger health problems. Because hearing loss can make it harder to communicate, many with the condition start to isolate themselves from others. This isolation can lead to anxiety, depression and even increase your risk of cognitive decline and dementia. Hearing loss may also increase your chance of developing balance problems and experiencing injury from falls.
Taking Care of Your Hearing Health
While you can’t always prevent hearing loss, you can take steps to protect your hearing and make sure to seek treatment at the first sign of a problem.
- Wear hearing protection, like earplugs or earmuffs, when exposed to loud noise at work or recreationally
- Listen to music on your headphones at a reasonable volume
- Eat healthy foods and get regular exercise
- Schedule a hearing test if you notice any problems
- Wear hearing aids or use other assistive listening devices if recommended by an audiologist
Research shows us that fewer than 30% of adults aged 70 and older who could benefit from hearing aids have ever used them. That number drops to 16% of adults between the ages of 20-69.
However, people who treat their hearing loss with hearing aids report increased confidence in their ability to communicate as well as experience overall better physical, mental and cognitive health.
If you have additional questions about hearing loss or wish to make an appointment, call Oregon Ear, Nose & Throat Center today.