Hear All About It: Monitor Your Hearing at a Young Age to Prevent Further Loss
If you are in your thirties or older and have never had a hearing test, it’s time to visit a licensed audiologist
Hearing loss affects one in ten Americans. Although it can be caused by a virus or an autoimmune disorder, it is most often caused by heredity, aging, and/or noise exposure. Hearing loss generally occurs over a long period of time; most people do not notice any problem with their hearing until they are in their fifties. For many, the first signs of hearing loss occur when they notice that they are having trouble hearing when people speak softly and/or in situations where there is background noise. Some people even mistake their hearing problem for a memory problem – one cannot remember what one has not heard!
The Effects of Hearing Loss
Clinical studies have consistently proven that a person’s ability to understand speech will diminish if auditory information does not reach the brain. Once a person has trouble hearing, less auditory information reaches the brain, and some people may actually forget what sounds sound like. Hearing loss can be very isolating to the individual suffering from it, and it can be a source of irritation to others. For example, a person with normal hearing may get tired of having to repeat everything he or she says to a person who has a hearing problem, in which case communication between the two people can suffer, thereby isolating them from each other.
Steps You Can Take
While nothing can be done to prevent hearing loss caused by heredity or aging, there are steps that everyone can take to monitor their hearing. Every person should have a baseline hearing test by their thirties. Just as we have vision testing, mammograms, and PSA testing, hearing testing should be part of our health care program as well. Having a baseline hearing test at a younger age allows your audiologist to assess the progression of any hearing loss during follow-up tests (which should occur every decade). If a later test indicates the start of a hearing loss, you then have the ability to takes steps to prevent further loss, particularly if that loss is due to noise exposure.
If you are in your thirties or older, get an accurate hearing test performed by a licensed audiologist. Secondly, be sure to protect your ears from high noise levels. Watch the volume levels on your iPods and Mp3 players because these can deliver dangerously loud noise levels directly into your ear. Hearing aids are the only remedy for sensorineural hearing loss and, although they are very sophisticated sound processors, they cannot restore hearing once it is lost.
Ellen Mosher is the owner of Los Gatos Audiology and Hearing Aid Center. For over 30 years, she has provided audiologic care for patients with hearing impairments. For more information on the author, please visit http://www.losgatoshearingaid.com
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