Hearing loss is a condition that we often do not think about until it affects us. As an invisible condition, hearing loss tends to be ignored or overlooked. It is estimated that people wait an average of seven years from the time they first notice changes in their hearing to the time they decide to seek treatment. As with many things, knowledge is power when it comes to hearing loss. Here we dispel the common myths about hearing loss and provide you with solid information about this common condition. Fiction:
Hearing Loss Does Not Affect Young People Fact:
Hearing loss could occur in any age group. While it is true that hearing loss is more commonly found among older Americans (age 65 and older), it also affects children, teenagers, and young adults. In fact, the World Health Organization recently estimated that 1.1. billion young people are at risk for hearing loss.
Among older people, presbycusis (age-related hearing loss) is common. However, in younger populations, noise-induced hearing loss has revealed itself to be a rapidly growing medical condition. Between exposure to sounds of high volume through earbuds to attending live music events, young people experience dangerous decibels that could threaten their hearing by the time they are in their 20s.
In fact, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated that 20 percent of people in their 20s are already experiencing some degree of hearing loss. According to Dr. Mandy Weinzierl of Indiana University, “We start losing our hearing as soon as we are born. It happens slowly so that it doesn’t interfere with communication, but it is inevitable that we’ll lose some of our hearing.” Fiction:
Hearing Loss is Harmless and is Just a Minor Annoyance Fact:
The reality is, hearing loss affects more than just your ears. In fact, our auditory processing happens in our brains. When sounds enter our ears, they are eventually translated into vibrations, then into electric messages received by the auditory center in our brains, which are recognized as sounds.
As such, researchers at Johns Hopkins have found that untreated hearing loss greatly affects our cognitive abilities. When our brains struggle to make sense of muddled sound signals, our cognitive abilities are diminished because more energy is required to hear. Johns Hopkins researchers have found potential links between a higher risk of dementia and untreated hearing loss. Fortunately, there’s a solution: the prescription of hearing aids greatly improves your cognitive abilities.
Hearing loss also affects your ability to communicate, which means your interpersonal relationships are at jeopardy the longer you wait to treat your hearing. People tend to avoid social interactions and situations that are difficult for listening, which eventually could lead to an increased risk for anxiety and depression. By treating hearing loss with hearing aids, you’ll find confidence to re-engage with your social life and activities. Fiction:
Lack of Exposure in Daily Life to Dangerous Levels of Sound Fact:
Our sense of hearing is always on. This means that no matter where we are, our ears are picking up sounds in our environment. This keeps us safe, but if we don’t protect our hearing in certain situations, we could be putting our hearing at risk.
Permanent hearing loss occurs when we are exposed to high levels of sound for long periods of time. How high is too high, and how long is too long?
Hearing specialists tell us that sounds at 85 decibels should not be listened to for more than 8 hours a day. Most people who work in loud professions, such as factory work or construction, use hearing protection provided by employers. It is those of us who work in industries that may not be obviously loud that are at risk.
Dentists, hair stylists, nursery school teachers – these are a few professions exposed to high-frequency or high-decibel sounds on a daily basis. The general rule is, if you have to raise your voice to speak to someone about arm’s length away, your workplace is too loud.
Outside of work, your leisure activities may also be harming your ears. Hunters, DIY-home improvement project enthusiasts, and people who love mowing the lawn are all exposed to high levels of sound on a regular basis. The use of custom ear protection helps ensure your hearing safety. Fiction:
I Would Know If I Experienced Hearing Loss Fact:
With higher levels of hearing loss, that could be true. But most people may not realize they are experiencing hearing loss. The best way to know for sure is to take a hearing test. Hearing tests provide you a reading of your current hearing abilities. If a hearing loss is detected, we’ll work with you to find a solution.
If you’ve never had a hearing test, or if you’ve never thought about the possibility of hearing loss, contact us
at one of our Puget Sound Hearing Aids and Audiology today!