If you haven’t had your hearing checked since your grade school days, you’re not by yourself. It isn’t normally part of a routine adult physical and sadly, we often deal with hearing reactively instead of proactively. Most people ignore hearing loss, even when they are aware of it, for as many as seven years which can significantly impact your health. In fact, untreated hearing loss has been shown to increase your healthcare costs over the years.
The good news, hearing exams are easy, pain-free, and provide a wide range of information for our professionals to assist you, both for diagnosing hearing concerns and assessing whether interventions such as hearing aids are working. When you were a child, you may recall the audiometry test from school, but a full hearing test will give you a clearer understanding of your hearing without a sticker or a lollipop.
While you might not give the state of hearing as much attention as you would the health of your eyes or your teeth, it is essential that you regularly get your hearing examined. You may not recognize a problem with your hearing for a long time. Hearing loss normally occurs gradually, and the earlier you recognize a problem with your hearing, the sooner you might be able to deal with it.
How do You Know When to Get Examined?
Typically the hospital will test babies for hearing loss before they release them. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children have formal hearing examinations when they are 4, 5, 6, 8 and 10 years of age and that teenagers should have hearing tests during wellness visits with their doctors.
If you are in between the ages of 18 and 45, it is recommended that you get your hearing tested every five years and then more often as you age. You need to get checked every three years if you are 46 to 60 years old and then every two years after you turn 60. But don’t allow that to stop you. Your individual situation will determine when you should get a test. If you find that your hearing isn’t what it used to be, you should have it tested immediately. Untreated hearing loss has been associated with mental decline, depression and increased risk of falls and other health concerns. It can also affect your relationships and your ability to work effectively.
There are also situations in which you should have a hearing exam as soon as possible to address hearing loss that could get worse. An immediate hearing test is advisable if:
- You are experiencing vertigo
- There is earwax buildup or you had an ear infection
- You find yourself having to constantly ask people to repeat themselves
- It is difficult to pinpoint where sounds are coming from
- You are experiencing a constant ringing in your ears
- Conversations are difficult to hear when you are in a crowded area especially
Whether you are at risk of hearing loss is another consideration. You should get your hearing screened more often, for example, if you are exposed to loud noise or if hearing loss runs in your family.
Also, over 200 ototoxic medications exist. From Aspirin to some antibiotics, these drugs can be very bad for your hearing. Consult your doctor to make certain any medicines you are taking aren’t impacting your hearing. Consider having your hearing tested more regularly in order to address any loss of hearing right away if you are using any ototoxic medications.
Also, think about how your habits could be impacting your hearing loss. Frequently using your earbuds? Hearing loss has substantially increased in younger people, and many experts think that this is because of the use of headphones and earbuds. Loud concerts, shows, or machinery can also do considerable damage to your ears. Schedule your hearing exam today if it’s time for you to have your hearing examined.
Despite common belief, hearing loss isn’t just a problem for seniors. While age is a reliable predictor of hearing loss, as a whole hearing loss has been on the rise. Hearing loss remains at about 14-16% amongst adults 20 to 69 years old. World wide, more than 1 billion people between the ages of 12-35 are at risk of developing hearing loss, as reported by the united nations and The World Health Organization. In children between 6 and 19, around 15% already have loss of hearing according to the CDC, and the number appears to be closer to 17% according to more recent research. Just 10 years ago hearing loss in teenagers was 30% lower according to another study. Johns Hopkins carried out a study projecting that by 2060 over 73 million people 65 or older will have hearing loss. That’s an astounding increase over current numbers.
We Are Developing Hearing Loss at a Younger Age, Why?
In the past, if you didn’t spend your days in a loud and noisy environment, damage to your hearing would develop rather slowly, so we consider it as a side effect of getting older. This is the reason why when you’re grandmother uses a hearing aid, you’re not surprised. But at a younger and younger age, our hearing is being effected by changes of lifestyle.
Technology, and smartphones, in particular, can have a significant impact on our hearing. Whether it’s talking to friends, listening to tunes, or watching movies, we are doing all the things we love to do and wearing earbuds for all of it. The problem is that we have no idea how loud (and for how long) is damaging to our hearing. Instead of taking steps to protect our ears, we even regularly use earbuds to drown out loud sound, voluntarily exposing our ears to harmful sound levels.
There’s a whole generation of young people around the world who are slowly but surely damaging their ability to hear. In terms of loss of productivity, that’s a huge problem and one that will cost billions of dollars in treatment.
Do we Really Understand Hearing Loss?
Even young kids are usually sensible enough to stay away from extremely loud noises. But it isn’t generally understood what hearing loss is about. The majority of people aren’t going to recognize that medium intensity noises can also damage your hearing if the exposure is long enough.
Needless to say, most people around the world, especially young people, aren’t really thinking about the risks of hearing loss because they think that it’s only an aging problem.
However, the WHO says irreversible ear damage might be happening to those in this 12-35 age group.
Due to the fact that so many people use smart devices regularly, it’s an especially extensive issue. That’s why offering additional information to mobile device users has been a suggested answer by some hearing specialists:
- Built-in parental controls that let parents more closely supervise volume and adjust for hearing health.
- Warnings when you listen too long at a high decibel level (it’s not only the volume of a sound that can result in damage it’s how long the noise persists).
- Alerts about high volume.
And that’s just the start. There are plenty of technological ways to get us to begin to pay more attention to the well being of our hearing.
Turn The Volume Down
If you decrease the volume of your mobile device it will be the most important way to minimize damage to your hearing. That’s true whether you’re 15, 35, or 70.
Let’s be honest, smartphones aren’t going anywhere. Everyone uses them all the time, not only kids. So we have to recognize that hearing loss has as much to do with technology as it does with aging.
Which means we’re going to need to change the way we talk about, prevent, and deal with hearing loss.
You should also try downloading an app that measures decibel levels in your environment. 2 steps to protect your hearing. Making sure not to attempt to drown out loud noises with even louder noises and of course wearing ear protection. For instance, if you drive with your windows down, don’t turn up the music to hear it better, the noise from the wind and traffic may already be at damaging levels. As always, if you have questions about your hearing, come talk to us.
For most people both ears rarely have exactly the same amount of hearing loss. Because one ear normally has worse loss of hearing than the other, it sparks the question: Can I simply use one hearing aid in the ear that’s worse.
In most instances, two hearing aids are going to be better than just one. But one hearing aid might be an acceptable choice in some less common circumstances.
It’s Not an Accident That Ears Come in a Pair
Your ears effectively function as a pair whether you’re aware of it or not. That means using two hearing aids has certain benefits over wearing one.
- Being Able to Localize Correctly: In order to figure out where sounds are coming from, your brain is not only working to interpret but also to place it. This is much easier when your brain is able to triangulate, and in order to do that, it needs solid inputs from both ears. When you can only hear well out of one ear, it’s much more difficult to figure out where a sound is coming from (which might be indispensable if you happen to live near a busy street, for example).
- Modern Hearing Aids Work as a Set: Modern hearing aid technology is made to work as a pair in the same way as your ears are. The artificial intelligence and advanced features function well because the two hearing aids communicate with one another and, similar to your brain, determine which sounds to focus on and amplify.
- Concentrating When People Are Talking: The whole point of using a hearing aid is to help your hearing. One of the things you want to hear is peoples conversations going on around you. Using two hearing aids allows your brain to better tune out background noises. Because your mind has more available data your brain can decide what is closer and therefore more likely to be something you would want to focus on.
- Make The Health of Your Ears Better: Just as seldom used muscles can atrophy, so too can an unused sense. Your hearing can start to go downhill if your ears don’t receive regular sound input. Get the organs of your ears the input they require to preserve your hearing by using two hearing aids. Using two hearing aids will also help decrease tinnitus (if you have it) and increase your ability to discern sounds.
Does One Hearing Aid Make Sense in Certain Circumstances?
In the majority of cases, using a pair of hearing aids is the better option. But the question is raised: why would someone wear a hearing aid in just one ear?
Usually we hear two distinct reasons:
- You still have perfect hearing out of one ear: If just one of your ears needs a hearing aid, then you may be best served by having a hearing aid in just one ear but it’s definitely something you should have a conversation about your hearing professional about (having one better ear is not the same as having one perfect ear).
- Monetary concerns: Some people feel that they can save money if they can use only one hearing aid. Buying one hearing aid is better then not getting any at all if you can’t really afford a pair. It’s important to understand, however, it has been proven that your overall health costs will increase if you have untreated hearing loss. Even disregarding hearing loss for two years has been shown to raise your healthcare costs by 26 percent, and neglecting any hearing loss in one ear will increase your chances of things like falling. So speak with your hearing expert to make certain only getting a single hearing aid is a good plan for you. We can also help you brainstorm ways to make hearing aids more budget friendly.
One Hearing Aid is Not as Beneficial as Two
Two hearing aids, however, are going to be better than one for your ears and hearing in most circumstances. There are simply too many advantages to having strong hearing in both ears to disregard. So, yes, in most circumstances, two hearing aids are a better choice than one (just like two ears are better than one). Schedule an appointment with a hearing care professional to have your hearing checked.
Eating right and safeguarding your hearing have some parallels. It sounds good, but not many of us have a very good concept of where to start. If there aren’t any noticeable noise risks and you don’t think your environment is very loud, this is especially true. But your ears and senses can be stressed by daily living, so your auditory acuity can be preserved if you apply these tips.
If you want to continue to enjoy the sounds around you, you should do everything you can to impede down the degeneration of your hearing.
Tip 1: Ear Protection You Can Wear
Using hearing protection is the most sensible and basic way to safeguard your hearing. This means taking basic actions to minimize the amount of loud and damaging noises you’re subjected to.
For most people, this will mean utilizing hearing protection when it’s warranted. Hearing protection generally comes in two basic forms:
- Ear Muffs, which are put over the ears.
- Ear Plugs, which are placed in the ear canal.
Neither form of hearing protection is inherently better than the other. There are positive aspects to each type. Your choice of hearing protection should, most notably, feel comfortable.
Tip 2: Know When Sound Becomes Dangerous
But how can you tell when to use hearing protection? We’re used to associating dangerous noise with painful noise. But much lower levels of sound can damage your ears than you might realize. After just a couple hours, for example, the sounds of traffic are enough to injure your hearing. Recognizing when sound becomes harmful, then, is a vital step in safeguarding your hearing.
Generally sounds become dangerous at the following thresholds:
- 85 decibels (dB): After about two hours this level of sound is hazardous.Your hairdryer or a busy city street are both situations where you will find this volume of sound.
- Over 100 dB: Your ears can be very rapidly injured by this. Injury is done in about thirty seconds with noises over this threshold. Jet engines and rock concerts, for example, can injure your hearing in about thirty seconds.
- 95-100 dB: This is the normal volume of your earbuds or the level of farm equipment. After around 15-20 minutes this volume of sound becomes dangerous.
Tip 3: Your Phone Can Be a Sound Meter
We can take steps to limit our exposure, now that we have a concept of what volumes will be dangerous. The trick is that, once you’re out in the real world, it can be difficult to measure what’s too loud and what isn’t.
That’s where your smartphone can become a handy little tool. There are dozens of apps for iPhone, Android, and everything in between that turn your device’s microphone into a sound meter.
In order to get an idea of what dangerous levels of noise really sound like, use your sound meter to confirm the decibel level of everything you are hearing.
Tip 4: Keep an Eye on Your Volume Settings
Most people today listen to music using their phone or smart device, and they normally use earbuds while they do it. Your hearing is put at risk with this combination. Your hearing can be considerably damaged if you set your earbuds to high over a long period of time.
That’s why protecting your hearing means keeping a sharp eye on your volume management. In order to drown out sounds elsewhere, you should not raise the sound level. in order to make sure that volume doesn’t get too high, we suggest using volume configurations or app settings.
Earbud use can become something of a negative feedback loop if your hearing starts to decline; in order to make up for your faltering hearing, you could find yourself continuously rising the volume of your earbuds, and in the process doing more damage to your ears.
Tip 5: Have Your Hearing Examined
You might think of a hearing test as something you schedule when your hearing has already begun to diminish. Without a baseline to compare results to, it’s not always easy to identify a problem in your hearing.
Acquiring data that can be used for both diagnostic applications and for treatment can best be accomplished by scheduling a hearing test and screening. This will give you a little extra perspective for future hearing choices and ear protection.
Keep an Eye on Your Ears
It would be perfect if you could constantly safeguard your hearing without any difficulty. But challenges are always going to be there. So whenever you can and as often as possible, safeguard your ears. You should also get your ears tested regularly. Hopefully, these tips will help you get a good start.
More frequently than we would like to admit, in today’s society, we put off on health care.
Think about people who disregard their own health care so they can get protection for their children. You can say the same for the working professional who refuses to cancel a meeting to fit in a doctor’s appointment. Then there are people who live by an “ignorance is bliss” approach and avoid the doctor’s office for fear of what they could hear.
But what would you do if you needed more than simply your annual preventive flu shot or something to ward off a sinus infection? What would you do if you woke up one morning with unexpected and complete hearing loss in one if not both ears?
There’s a good chance your hearing will never come back if you just attempt to put it off. Hearing experts caution that if you don’t have sudden temporary hearing loss taken care of right away, particularly if it’s at the nerve level, it could become permanent.
What is Sudden Hearing Loss?
According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), only about half the people who experience sudden hearing loss–the rapid loss of 30 decibels or more of hearing ability–will regain some or all of their hearing naturally.
Many people would be surprised to find out how often sudden hearing loss occurs. Actually, studies estimate that there are between one and six individuals for every 5,000 yearly who experience sudden hearing loss. With that being said, the NIDCD warns that the amount of undiagnosed cases would cause that number to swell if you were to include them. This means that this year about 400,000 Americans or more could experience sudden hearing loss.
The term “sudden” is somewhat of a misconception in this instance as what’s categorically labeled as sudden hearing loss can occur over several hours or up to three days.
What is The Cause of Sudden Hearing Loss?
Due to the fact that the onset can happen over hours or days, doctors are usually not able to learn what’s behind the cause for most cases. The unfortunate reality is that determining a cause is possible in only about 10 percent of individuals diagnosed with sudden loss of hearing. Of those that hearing professionals can pinpoint, the most common causes are infections, head trauma, autoimmune diseases, exposure to certain drugs, blood circulation problems, neurological disorders and disorders of the inner ear.
As mentioned, receiving treatment as soon as possible after the onset of sudden hearing loss gives you the best chance to recover at least some of your normal hearing.
Sudden Hearing Loss; How do You Treat it?
In cases when the cause is not known and in most other cases, the normal course of treatment involves corticosteroids. Decreasing the swelling and reducing inflammation is the goal as with all steroid usage.
As medicine has advanced and more researchers have carried out additional studies on sudden hearing loss, the recommended method of treatment has changed. Historically, doctors prescribed these steroids in pill form, but this presented a challenge for individuals who were not able to take oral steroids and those who were leery of the side effects connected with the medication.
An injection of steroids through the eardrum proved to be as effective as an oral steroid according to a 2018 NIDCD clinical trial, even getting around the drawbacks of oral alternatives by allowing the medication to flow straight into the ear. Ear, nose and throat specialist around the country routinely give these injections in the office.
Another reason why getting immediate medical care is so important is that your doctor might order a group of tests that could diagnose the root problem behind your sudden hearing loss or another dangerous condition. These tests may include blood-work, an MRI or other techniques for imaging and even an examination of your ability to balance.
We Might be Getting Close to New Treatment For Sudden Hearing Loss
Researchers continue to work on the issue but truthfully, there’s a lack of solid facts about the cause of sudden loss of hearing. A potentially safer way of administering steroids is the new development of infusing the drug into microspheres.
While many aspects of sudden loss of hearing are still a mystery, researchers and medical experts have shown repeatedly that early treatment improves your chances of restoring the hearing you’ve lost. Contact a hearing specialist if you are experiencing hearing loss of any type.
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