Cases of hearing loss aren’t going away anytime soon
Hearing loss, no matter the cause, is a very common condition in the United States. In fact, about 15% of American adults (18 and older) experience some trouble hearing, and that number only gets larger with age. Despite how common it is, what’s even more surprising is that only 30% of individuals older than 70 that could benefit from hearing aids actually have them. That’s a lot of untreated hearing loss!
While hearing loss cannot be cured – and there are some causes of hearing loss that are simply out of our control – hearing loss is certainly treatable, and there are even ways you can lessen your risk of developing hearing loss.
Read on to learn about four ways you may be damaging your hearing without even knowing it and how you can minimize the effects of these factors.
1. Exposure to noise
Noise is everywhere, and noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) is right there with it! Think about it: we encounter loud noises every day, from police sirens on the road to listening to music in the car to lawnmowers or power tools at home. And each of these noises can negatively affect your hearing, causing noise-induced hearing loss either temporarily or permanently.
Noise-induced hearing loss can affect individuals of any age and any profession, but those who work in loud environments, like construction workers or pilots, are definitely at a higher risk. Even if you’re occupation doesn’t involve a lot of loud noise, you’re probably still exposing your ears to excessive noise more often than you think.
Consider wearing hearing protection in loud environments, like at concerts or while mowing the lawn, to reduce your exposure and potential risk for developing noise-induced hearing loss.
2. Some medications
Some medications are categorized as “ototoxic,” meaning that they can have a negative impact on your health outside of the condition they are designed to treat when used long-term. Research has found several medications that may cause damage to your inner ear and, therefore, your hearing.
The best way to tell if your specific medication could be putting you at risk for long-term hearing loss is to check with your doctor or a hearing care provider (like the folks at Beltone Tristate), especially if your medication is prescribed as a cancer treatment or to treat conditions like heart disease.
3. Untreated illness
Not all illnesses will cause damage to your inner ears, but some definitely can, and infections as simple as the common cold or flu (or even seasonal allergies!) can progress to the point of causing long-term damage.
Most obviously, ear infections can damage your inner ear leading to hearing loss or even deafness if left untreated. Similarly, colds and the flu can cause damage to your ears with the amount of excess mucous and pressure in your sinuses that these illnesses cause.
Less obviously, illnesses like meningitis and measles have also been known to cause hearing damage if not treated, and longer-term medical conditions, like MS and osteoporosis, can have a similar effect.
The best way to reduce the risk of hearing loss from untreated illness is simply to treat the illness! Be sure to bring any concerns to your doctor, too.
4. Not getting your hearing checked frequently
Hearing loss can sometimes progress very slowly – slowly enough that your body may not be able to perceive a change in hearing with each passing day. So, one of the biggest ways you may be damaging your hearing is by not getting your hearing checked annually by a hearing care specialist.
By getting a hearing test every year, you can better evaluate changes in your hearing and know when it’s time to seek treatment.
While there are plenty of cases of hearing loss that are simply caused by age or genetics and may be largely out of your control, protective measures like wearing ear protection in loud environments or attending your annual hearing appointment will help both preventable and unpreventable hearing loss.
If any of the things we discussed sound familiar to you, it may be time to see a hearing care specialist and get a hearing test to make sure you’re catching hearing loss early and can get on the right path to treatment. Book a free hearing test and consultation with one of our providers at Beltone Tristate today!