Do you find it difficult to follow a conversation in a noisy restaurant or in a group situation? Do you feel that people do not speak clearly? Do you feel that you can hear, but you do not always understand what people are saying?

If you answered yes to these questions, you may have hearing loss. Approximately 36 million Americans suffer from hearing loss. Hearing loss is the third most common health problem in the United States, and hearing loss is oftentimes left untreated (American Academy of Audiology, 2016). Untreated hearing loss may affect your ability to understand and discriminate speech. Hearing loss may also affect your social and active lifestyle.

Hearing loss may be caused by natural aging processes, significant exposure to loud noise, ear infections or diseases, genetics, or certain medications or illnesses. If you feel you may have hearing loss, or if you feel a loved one may have hearing loss, find an audiologist in your area to evaluate your hearing status. Well treated hearing loss can significantly improve your quality of life!

Of the 36 million Americans suffering from hearing loss, approximately one in three developed their hearing loss as a result of exposure to noise (American Academy of Audiology, 2016). Loud noise sources can damage auditory hair cells in the inner ear, which are responsible for converting sound into electrical signals that travel to the brain. Damaged hair cells cause permanent hearing loss, as they cannot grow back.

When in noise, do you have to shout to be heard? Do you have trouble hearing someone who is 3 feet away from you? Does the noise make your ears ring or do you have difficulty hearing for several hours after being exposed to the noise?

If you answered yes to these questions, you have likely been exposed to noise at a level that is damaging to your ears. Noise-induced hearing loss is the ONLY hearing loss we can prevent! Take appropriate measures now to protect your hearing.

When encountering significant levels of noise, wear hearing protection such as foam earplugs, earmuffs or custom hearing protection devices. Speak to your audiologist to determine which protection device option is best for you and your lifestyle. Turn down the volume when listening to the radio, the TV or personal music devices. If you are around noise that is too loud, walk away to a safe distance! It is also important to remember that even household and leisure activities such as mowing the lawn and using power tools can reach dangerous noise levels.

During National Audiology Awareness Month and National Protect Your Hearing Month, we encourage you to take the best care of your hearing needs. Speak to an audiologist or otolaryngologist regarding any questions or concerns you may have. Raise awareness to your friends and loved ones so that they, too, may address hearing matters.

References

American Academy of Audiology. (2016). American Academy of Audiology: Public Awareness. Retrieved October 6, 2016, from http://www.audiology.org/publications-resources/consumer-information/october.

Posted on Fri, October 7, 2016 by Kara Mouzin, AuD filed under Hearing Loss

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