Sound is very deeply incorporated into people’s lives, so it’s hard not to take it for granted. Still, every year 20 percent of Americans lose their ability to hear at some point. If you are over 65 years of age, you have a one in three chance of suffering from some level of hearing loss, explains the Hearing Loss Association of American.
You may think that losing your hearing is just a part of getting older, but there is more to it. The things you do now to protect your ears can slow the process and maybe prevent it entirely. The main factor is education. The more you understand about hearing loss, the better. Let’s discuss few facts about hearing loss that you need to understand before it’s too late.
There are Different Forms of Hearing Loss
Knowing what type hearing loss you have helps to find solutions. There are three to consider:
- Conductive – What you might associate with aging. Conductive loss means a breakdown in the mechanisms of hearing, so sound waves can’t reach the inner ear. What’s important to remember about conductive hearing loss is it might be reversible. Something is simple as a buildup of ear wax can cause it.
- Sensorineural –Trauma from injury or illness to the middle ear prevents the nerves from translating sound to the brain. The sensorineural hearing loss is permanent.
- Mixed – Mixed means you have both conductive and sensorineural hearing loss.
Once you know why you can’t hear, you can figure out ways to enhance your quality of life with things like hearing aids.
Aging Isn’t The Only Answer
Growing older does put a person at risk for conductive hearing loss, but it’s not the only factor. The ears are very delicate, so environmental stressors take their toll, as well. This may be part of the reason why elderly folks tend to lose some of their hearing. By paying focusing now to the things that will cost you later, you can keep your ears safe. Other dangerous scenarios to consider include:
Loud noise – Research shows that at least 48 percent of plumbing professionals suffer hearing loss. Why – because they are exposed frequently to loud noises on the job. Even small things like listening to music with the volume up, spending evenings watching your favorite local band perform or riding in the car with the windows down can be a problem. Big sounds create big, dangerous sounds waves that eventually damage the sensitive elements that allow you to hear.
Drug Therapy – Some forms of medication are ototoxic, meaning they cause damage to the inner ear. There are currently around 200 different medications capable of triggering hearing or balance problems including over the counter aspirin.
Trauma or Illness – An injury to the ears or certain illnesses such as high blood pressure, diabetes or chronic ear infections
Hearing Loss Tends to be Progressive
It’s better if you remain proactive about ear health because hearing loss often starts small and increases gradually. Symptoms to watch for include:
- It sounds like people are mumbling
- Your friends or family complain about having to repeat themselves
- You are turning up the volume on the TV often
- Certain sounds become difficult to understand, specifically words with the letter S or F and high pitched voices
- You have trouble following conversations
- You respond inappropriately to questions
You or your family might notice that you are struggling in any of these areas, schedule a hearing test. The sooner your hearing loss is diagnosed, the better the outcome in most cases. Prompt medical care for your specific hearing problem will increase your chance of recovery.
The good news is there is life after hearing loss if it does happen to you. There are personal listening devices like hearing aids that help your tune out background noise and enhance dialect, for example. The more you understand about your hearing loss, the better able you are to find ways to manage it.