October is National Audiology Awareness Month
While many think that our hearing is only affected as we age, hearing loss can occur at any time. That is why HASA understands the importance of raising awareness around hearing loss prevention and treatment. Please read on for important information.
Did you know?
- According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), 37.5 million people in the U.S. have hearing loss. Hearing loss affects people of all ages—not just senior citizens. One out of three adults will have hearing loss at age 65. By 75, about half of all Americans have hearing loss.
- Sensorineural hearing loss, also known as nerve deafness, affects the inner ear. Some researchers estimate that 9 out of 10 people with hearing loss have this type, making it the most common. Damage to the inner ear is permanent, however, patients may benefit from hearing aids.
- Conductive hearing loss results from damage to the outer and/or middle ear. This type of hearing loss may be reversible with surgery or medications. Audiology specialists estimate that 10 percent of patients with hearing loss suffer from this type.
- Aging and prolonged noise exposure are the most common causes of hearing loss because cumulative damage to the hair cells of the inner ear occurs gradually. Other causes of hearing loss may include certain diseases, head and neck trauma, genetics, and even medications.
The Dangers of Noise Pollution
Noise pollution, referred to as an invisible danger, includes traffic noise, rock concerts, and loud or inescapable environmental sounds. It can cause hearing loss, referred to as noise induces hearing loss (NIHL). Sound is measured in decibels (dB), and levels at 85 decibels or higher can harm a person’s ears. Consequently, many common sound sources exceed this threshold. Familiar examples include power lawnmowers (90 dB), subway trains (90 to 115 dB), and loud rock concerts (110 to 120 dB). Even your household appliances, such as a blow dryer, blender, or vacuum, can reach levels up to 100 dB! After eight hours of exposure when noises measure 85 dB you may experience hearing damage; at 100 dB, however, your safe listening time vastly drops to only 15 minutes.
Hearing Loss and Correlated Health Effects
As we have learned, hearing loss usually develops slowly, making it hard to notice. The average patient waits up to seven years from the onset of hearing loss before seeking treatment. Further, our brains adapt and fill in the missing gaps by diverting cognitive resources from key areas, such as concentration and memory, to assist in the hearing process. This phenomenon is why experts correlate a variety of social, psychological, and physical health effects with hearing loss.
How to Observe National Audiology Awareness Month
Get your ears checked today. Don’t wait because with time hearing loss generally worsens dramatically and may not be reversible. Our hearing is vital to our overall well-being. Click here to contact HASA and schedule your hearing screening. Encourage your friends and family to do the same!