Hearing loss affects about 32 million people in the United States. The most common cause of hearing loss, presbycusis is associated with aging. The second most common cause is noise exposure. Both causing irreversible hearing damage.
How can you prevent hearing loss? Understand the risks and that the damage to your ears is irreversible. Therefore, it’s important to protect your hearing now.
Understand the Risks
Noise-induced hearing loss can be caused from either a one time exposure to a very loud sound or prolonged exposure to loud sounds. Often when people think of noise-induced hearing loss, they think about adults who work in loud noisy environments, like landscapers, construction workers, members of the military and factory workers, or anyone who participates in recreational activities like shooting or hunting where they are exposing their ears to loud noises each time they fire a gun.
However, more and more, researchers are seeing a increase in noise-induced hearing loss among children and teenagers. About five million children current suffer from noise-induced hearing loss in the United States, likely because an increased number of children are using headphones to listen to music, movies and video games.
Noise-induced hearing loss sufferers experience the same symptoms as anyone else with hearing loss. Hearing loss tends to be gradual and although most sufferers do not realize they are experiencing any difficulty hearing for many years, over time they notice they have more difficulty. Those with hearing damage often report tinnitus, characterized by ringing in the ear, as their first symptom. Other common symptoms include difficulty hearing with background noise and asking for repetition.
Prevent Noise-Induced Hearing Loss
Once you understand the risks, follow these steps to protect your hearing and prevent noise-induced hearing loss.
Avoid or limit exposure to loud noises. You can accomplish this by turning down the volume on personal music systems like MP3 players and iPods or simply moving away from the source of loud sounds when possible.
You should make sure to use hearing protection when it is neither possible nor realistic to move away from the source of a loud noise. Custom earplugs, foam earplugs or ear muffs work well as long as they fit properly, but cotton balls do not protect your hearing effectively.
In addition to protecting your hearing on a daily basis, it’s important to have annual hearing evaluations to monitor your hearing sensitivity.
If you or someone you know would like to learn more about hearing loss treatments, feel free to schedule a consultation by contacting one of our representatives today!