“I’m sorry, can you repeat that? I didn’t catch what you said”. Have you caught yourself muttering this to your friends, family, or coworkers? Or when watching a movie with your significant other, do you have the captions on so you can better understand what’s going on in the movie because you’ve noticed you often miss what the actors are saying? Unfortunately for many people, part of the aging process includes developing hearing loss, even as early as 30 or 40. There are two primary kinds of hearing loss, age-related hearing loss, or presbycusis, and noise-related hearing loss. Have you been experiencing ringing in your ears (tinnitus) or difficulty hearing high-intensity sounds? If so, you may be one of the over 30 million Americans living with hearing loss.
Noise-Induced Hearing Loss
If you’re under the age of 50 and answered “yes” to any of the above questions, the most common type of hearing loss you may be living with is noise-induced hearing loss. Much like the name assumes, noise-induced hearing loss is commonly caused by workplace environments with high noise levels such as airports, music and entertainment venues and construction sites. Although the workplace plays a major role in noise-induced hearing loss, other factors may include spending an extended amount of time around loud machinery such as lawnmowers, jet skis or motorcycles, or listening to loud music for a prolonged time over the course of many years.
Age-Related Hearing Loss
Although not as common, age-related hearing loss that is usually present in the mid-70s and older age demographic may be the cause of hearing loss in ages younger than 50. Age-related hearing loss can occur when there are changes in the inner ear as you age, or can be brought on due to certain medical conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and otosclerosis (an abnormal bone growth in the middle ear). In fact, certain medications including chemotherapy treatments have been shown to have effects on hearing loss. Occasionally, age-related hearing loss can be caused by issues with the middle ear or damaged nerve pathways from the ear to the brain, although this is unusual.
Treatments and Devices to Lift the Burden
Once you schedule an appointment with a hearing health professional and find out if you have hearing loss as well as the type of hearing loss, you can start looking into different treatments and devices available to you to help lift the burden of living with hearing loss. The most common treatments and devices out there for those who are hard of hearing or deaf are hearing aids, cochlear implants, hearing dogs and assistive listening devices. Assistive listening devices can be a great addition to your household; certain devices can display closed captioning on phone calls or can flash a certain color when your doorbell or cell phone rings.
To learn more on hearing aids, visit the “Understanding 3 Top Hearing Aid Styles” blog post here:
To learn more on hearing dogs, visit the “How Can Dogs Help With Hearing Loss” blog post here:
Practicing safe prevention is key to lessening the effects of hearing loss. Although researchers haven’t found proven ways to prevent age-related hearing loss, there are tips to prevent noise-related hearing loss. First and foremost, use ear protection around loud noises such as shooting ranges, lawnmowers and concerts. Most noise-related hearing loss stems from being exposed to prolonged loud noises without proper hearing protection. When at all possible, we advise limiting exposure to loud noises and putting distance between yourself and the noise source. For instance, if you’re enjoying a dinner out in town and there is a live band, ask to be seated away from the band’s set up and preferably not next to any speakers the restaurant may have. A few more tips of advice are scheduling regular hearing checks (your first one as an adult should be scheduled in your early-mid 20s to establish a baseline, and follow ups every five years after) and being cognizant of volume levels when you’re listening to music through headphones. A good rule of thumb is having the volume no louder than 50% if you plan to listen to music for over two hours.
Living with hearing loss before your 50th birthday isn’t glamorous, but fortunately there are many resources available that can help you live an active and fulfilling life. Are you ready to schedule an appointment with us to establish your hearing baseline and learn about options available to you? Reach out to us at https://wisehearing.com/contact-us to schedule an appointment today!