Sound is deeply ingrained into our lives and it becomes hard not to take it for granted at times. Still, each year 20 percent of Americans lose their ability to hear. In fact, by 65 years of age, one in three of them suffer from some level of hearing loss, states the Hearing Loss Association of American.
You may still think that losing your hearing is just a part of the aging process, but there is more to know than that. What you do before you grow older 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 a few facts about hearing loss that you need to understand before it’s too late.
The Different Types of Hearing Loss
Understanding what type hearing loss you have helps to find solutions. There are three to consider:
- Conductive – Conductive loss is what you might associate with aging. This form of hearing loss means there is a change 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 an accident or a disease to the ear prevents the nerves from translating sound to the brain. The sensorineural hearing loss not fixable.
- Mixed –This means you have both conductive and sensorineural hearing loss.
Once you understand why hearing changed, you can figure out ways to enhance your quality of life with things like hearing aids.
Aging Isn’t the Only Possible Cause
Advanced age 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 – Studies indicate 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. Loud sounds create potentially dangerous waves that will eventually damage the sensitive elements that allow you to hear.
Medication – 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 Starts Slow and Builds
It’s best to be proactive because hearing loss begins slowly and increases over time. Symptoms to watch for include:
- Mumbling when people talk
- Complaints of people needing to repeat themselves
- You need the volume up high on the TV
- 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
If you feel like you are having difficulties in any of these areas, schedule a hearing test. The earlier your hearing loss is diagnosed, the better the prognosis in most cases. Prompt medical care for your hearing defect 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.