No one can predict when their hearing may be compromised, but preventing and treating hearing loss have never been easier. Know the facts.
The human ear's three defined components; the outer ear, the middle ear and the inner ear work together to convert sound into a sequence of electrical charges that is the language of the auditory nervous system. Hearing loss can result from damage or abnormalities to any of the components.
Hearing loss can be the result of conductive hearing loss, sensorineural hearing loss or a combination of both. Conductive hearing loss is loss of sound sensitivity resulting from abnormalities of the middle and/or the outer ear. This type of loss is common in children with ear infections. Once the infection is cleared up, the hearing is restored. This type of loss can usually be treated with medication or simple surgery. Sensorineural hearing loss can result from abnormalities of the inner ear and/or nerve paths to the brain. Commonly referred to as "nerve loss" is most commonly caused by repetitive exposure to high-intensity noise or the natural aging process which causes permanent damage to the auditory cells and nerve. This type of loss can usually be helped with the use of hearing instruments.
Hearing loss is often associated only with advancing age. Today we are seeing hearing loss at increasingly younger ages as a result of the increase in work-related noise, environmental noise and recreational noise. Over the past 20 years, hearing loss in people ages 18 to 44 has increased by more than 17% and in people ages 45-64 by more than 26%.
Since hearing loss happens gradually and painlessly, many people are unaware of how significant their hearing loss is. The average person who seeks help for his hearing loss usually waits 7-10 years after the identification of the loss to get help. Even when people are made aware of their hearing loss, 80% do nothing about it. Hearing loss is like any other medical condition—the earlier it's detected, the easier it is to determine a solution.
Noise-induced hearing loss can result from a single loud noise such as a firecracker or gunshot. Hearing loss can also result from prolonged exposure to noise over a period of time. It occurs gradually and painlessly. The best way to prevent noise-induced hearing loss is to take care of your hearing by protecting your ears from loud sounds.
We should not be exposed to 85 decibels (dB) of sound for longer than eight hours a day. For every 5 dB increase in volume, the maximum recommended exposure time is cut in half. Here are some examples of sound represented in decibels:
- Lawnmower [90 dB]
- Stereo Headphones [105-110 dB]
- Jackhammer [113 dB]
- Rock Concert [115-120 dB]
- Jet Taking Off [130 dB]
- Firearms [125-170 dB]
As you can see, there are many everyday sounds that can cause noise-induced hearing loss. Here are some simple things you can do to protect your hearing:
- Wear earplugs when you’re exposed to loud noise at work or play
- Pay attention to the noises around you. Turn down the volume on TVs and stereos when you can. Whenever possible, leave noisy environments.
- Alternate a noisy activity with a quiet one to give your ears a rest.