According to the Centers For Disease Control (CDC), hearing loss is the third most common chronic health problem in the US.
While this might be surprising, for most patients their hearing loss is more than just a statistic. Hearing loss can impact their daily lives, their sense of well-being, and eventually their overall health.
As an audiologist, I offer specialized care and solutions to many patients on a daily basis. It’s the positive outcomes that make my job so fulfilling and this fuels my mission to raise the awareness of hearing healthcare.
Therefore, I’ve put together some suggestions on how to protect your hearing and become more hearing aware.
Avoid Too Much Noise
I can’t stress enough how important it is to avoid loud environments. One of the main causes of hearing loss is exposure to loud noises for extended periods of time. One way to tell if it’s too noisy is if you need to raise your voice in order to be heard by someone who is within three feet away from you. Loud music, power tools, gas-powered lawnmowers, and other machinery can take a toll on your hearing with regular usage.
While many cases of noise-induced hearing loss gradually occur over time, sometimes a very loud and sudden noise is all it takes to do significant damage. A loud bang from a nearby firecracker or the shrill of a siren can do plenty of damage within seconds.
If you enjoy listening to music through earbuds, I recommend keeping the volume below 60%. Too high of a volume can damage your ears.
Should you know that you’ll be within a noisy environment, ensure you are wearing earplugs or snuggly fitted ear muffs. You can purchase them online or at your local hardware or home improvement store. If you work in a loud environment, your employer is required by federal regulations to supply you with ear protection, as it’s considered personal protection equipment.
Take Appropriate Action
A hearing loss isn’t always obvious. Many patients are surprised to discover that they have a hearing loss. What are some of the signs you should be aware of?
Some of the most common signs include:
- Phone conversations become difficult.
- People’s speech sounds muffled.
- You notice a ringing or buzzing in your ear(s).
- You can’t hear high-pitch sounds such as birds chirping or the doorbell.
- You find yourself asking others to repeat themselves or to speak more clearly.
If any of these signs sound familiar, I encourage you to book a hearing assessment with me. You may also want to consider having an annual hearing test even if you think your hearing is good at the moment. From a baseline test, I can tell how good your hearing is now and each year, I’ll compare your tests to see if there are any changes.
Stay Safe And Healthy
Taking care of your health benefits your ears in several ways. Eating a healthy diet is linked to a lower risk of hearing loss.
Ensure you get a good sleep, manage your stress levels, and stay physically active to keep your hearing healthy along with an overall healthy body. At the other end of the spectrum, smoking can contribute to a variety of health problems – and that includes hearing loss.
While physical activity is good for your health, be sure you wear appropriate safety equipment while playing contact sports or bicycling and in certain work environments to avoid serious head injuries. If you work in construction, don’t forget to wear a hard hat. In fact, your employer should provide one for you if you are at risk of a head injury.
Be aware of your family’s medical history. Some genetic conditions can affect your hearing. It is also important to know if any relatives have any hearing issues. Other chronic illnesses to be aware of, such as diabetes or high blood pressure, tend to result in higher rates of hearing loss than the general population. By knowing what type of conditions run in your family, you can take the necessary precautions to reduce your risk of developing the same illnesses.
I know it can be difficult to accept advice from loved ones, especially when it comes to your health, but if those closest to you suggest that you might have a hearing problem, do not brush it aside. It is often our loved ones that notice any changes in our hearing before we do. Instead, follow their advice and make an appointment for a hearing test.
Embrace The Technology
If your hearing loss is affecting your lifestyle, consider hearing aids. Today’s devices are nearly invisible, so you don’t need to worry about them showing. Thanks to digital technology, they can be programmed and adjusted to meet your unique needs. I’ve witnessed the difference they can make to one’s life – it is definitely something worth considering.
If you are concerned that you might have a hearing loss, don’t hesitate to give me a call. A hearing test is the first step to determining whether or not you have a hearing loss. I will work with you to create a personalized hearing management plan so you can continue to get the most out of your hearing and out of life.