Many of us don’t think about hearing health until we already have a hearing problem. Unfortunately, more than half of the people over 65 in the United States have some degree of hearing loss. But this isn’t just an age related problem. 1 in every 5 teens has some hearing loss and 2.7 million veterans are dealing with hearing issues.
You cannot reverse most types of hearing loss. If the hairs in your ear that pick up sound vibrations to your eardrum are damaged or disappear the sound waves will not be transmitted to your brain to process as sound.
Causes of Hearing Loss:
- Exposure to loud noises. (gunshots, explosions)
- Bad ear infections. (particularly in infants)
- Prolonged exposure to loud music. (musicians)
- Colds that block up sinus passages.
- Earwax build up.
- Health conditions: diabetes, high blood pressure, brain injury or a tumor.
- Ruptured eardrum. (loud noise, sudden air pressure changes, infection, or poking the eardrum with a sharp object)
- Aging. (age related hearing loss usually occurs equally in both ears)
Signs Of Hearing Loss:
- Have trouble hearing over the phone.
- Need the volume on the TV or radio turned up.
- Can’t hear well when there is background noise.
- Can’t understand higher pitches like women and children talking.
- Difficulty understanding words.
- Frequently asking for speakers to repeat what was said.
- Withdrawal from conversations.
- Tinnitus – ringing in the ears. This can sound like ringing, hissing or buzzing. This can also be a sign of high blood pressure, a reaction to some medications or allergies.
Prevention Of Hearing Loss:
There are some good health practices that you can do to try and avoid hearing loss.
Limit exposure to loud noises.
Remove wax gently.
Treat ear infections promptly and completely. Many times that doctor will request you come back in for a quick check to make sure the treatment for an ear infection worked. Do not avoid this step. It is hard to know if an infection has cleared in your ears. Repeated and prolonged infections increase your risk for hearing loss.
Avoid or limit ear buds and ear phones. Ear buds put sound very close to the ear drum. Loud noises can damage your ear drum.
Have your hearing checked. It is recommended to have a hearing check every 3 years after the age of 50. Because age related hearing loss goes often unnoticed until the hearing loss is severe. This is because the loss is so gradual that you don’t even realize it is happening.
Treatment of Hearing Loss:
There are audiologist (hearing specialists) who can help you determine how bad your hearing loss is and what your options are. Hearing aid technology is getting better all the time.
You do not have to live with hearing loss. Your doctor can help you take steps to improve what you hear.