Hearing loss is one of the leading chronic health conditions in America, and yet, the concerns over hearing loss stretch across the globe. The World Health Organization (WHO) has promoted awareness and prevention initiatives in the hopes of both educating people in the ways they can prioritize hearing health, as well as increasing access to hearing health care.

Tactics for prevention

One such campaign targeted youth across the globe. According to the WHO, experts predict that one in four people will have hearing damage by the year 2050. That’s the not-so-distant future. As of today, approximately half of all people between the ages of 12 and 35 years old put themselves at risk of hearing loss because of their listening habits.

We are plugged into our devices like never before. We use them to go to school, work, socialize, play games and stream media. Earbuds inherently carry a risk of excessive noise exposure because volumes can easily measure between 95 and 110 decibels. Our safe listening threshold lies at around 85 decibels and when volumes exceed this, we can begin to harm our healthy hearing.

How sound exposure leads to hearing loss

When our ears are exposed to unhealthy volumes, we risk damaging the integral cells of the inner ear. These cells are responsible for receiving the noise of the world and transmuting it into sound information by way of electrical impulses. The auditory nerve carries this information to our brains, where meaning is made in our processing centers. When these delicate cells of the inner ear decay or become damaged, they do not repair themselves. Instead, we are able to capture less sounds and our brains receive incomplete information. We hear less.

Protecting the hearing you have

Of course, while many such programs educate younger folks about the dangers of high volumes and devices, it’s never too late to begin a responsible listening practice. A good rule of thumb is to keep volumes at halfway and never exceed two-thirds of maximum. This is a great way to protect your own hearing and to model good listening habits for your children or grandchildren.

Along with the dangers of widespread technology, we also receive some incredible benefits. Most smartphones measure and report back to you the decibel output of your listening habits. In an iphone, simply visit the Health app and scroll down to headphone audio levels where you can see your average.

There are even apps, like DecibelX, available that measure the decibel levels in your sound environment. Movies, sporting events and concerts are all recreational activities that can carry the risk of excessive noise damage. If you find levels exceeding 85 decibels, you can choose to take a break or use protective ear wear like headphones or earplugs to protect your hearing.

Reducing the impact of hearing loss

Of course, hearing loss is an unavoidable condition for some because the natural aging process itself contributes to the decay of those important inner ear cells. And although hearing loss continues to be primarily an irreversible condition, it is highly treatable.

Cochlear implants have become routine surgery and hearing aids are stronger, smarter and more powerful than ever. As a country, we can choose to expand access to hearing aids by making them more affordable, advocating for Medicare and Medicaid coverage as well as inclusion from private health insurance.

The benefits of treating hearing loss

This is a task the whole world is focused upon. Mark Laureyns, President of the European Association of Hearing Aid Professionals reminds us that “professional hearing care and the use of hearing aids does not only lead to better hearing and understanding, but also activates people to stay independent and to keep enjoying life to the fullest.”

We know that hearing aids can help people remain connected to their lives. One of the most reported outcomes of implementing hearing aids is improved relationships. And although we are still working through antiquated stigmas around wearing hearing aids, they are rising in popularity. Most people who choose hearing aids would recommend them to a friend dealing with hearing loss.

Schedule a hearing consultation

There’s no better time to start prioritizing your hearing health than right now. Schedule a consultation with our team today and we can walk you through the simple process of a hearing exam. From there, we’ll work with you to chart the best path forward.

 

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