According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about one in four U.S. adults age 20-69 report excellent hearing while unknowingly experiencing measurable hearing damage.
As a practicing audiologist, someone who specializes in hearing and balance issues, the CDC’s statistic rings true day to day in my office.
“Everyone mumbles, especially with their mask on… “
“Don’t yell! I can hear you, I just need you to speak clearly!”
“In background noise, forget about it, I can’t understand you…”
These are some of the most common concerns I hear from patients, yet most don’t realize that these struggles all stem from one thing: hearing loss.
For many people, damage to their hearing is caused by repeated and prolonged exposure to common noises over 85 decibels, like:
Because damage most often occurs gradually, it’s not as obvious when you begin to experience hearing loss. In fact, it’s one of the most common, chronic conditions that Americans experience, and often goes undetected.
I always advise patients, if it’s been a while since your last hearing test, or maybe you don’t even remember when your last hearing test was, now would be the best time to get it checked.
Here are the four most important reasons to have a hearing test:
You’re more likely to suffer from hearing loss if you also have a diagnosis of:
If you’re a smoker, that puts you at higher risk as well, along with a history of ear infections, and even taking certain medications. Plus, males are at a naturally higher risk as well as anyone over the age of 40.
Untreated hearing loss can lead to a variety of other serious health problems, including:
Whether you think you are experiencing hearing loss or not,it’s a good idea to establish a baseline hearing test and then have regular monitoring audiograms, about every one to two years. This will help detect any damage to your hearing early and prevent further loss.
Like changes in vision, hearing loss can seem normal until corrected. For instance, once a person gets new prescription glasses, suddenly their vision is crisper and more colorful. They didn’t realize how fuzzy the world had become and how many details their eyes failed to detect.
Hearing loss is similar. Due to the anatomy of the ear, typical hearing loss affects the higher frequencies first. These high-pitched sounds are incredibly important for understanding speech, especially in background noise. This inability to interpret what people are saying at restaurants or family gatherings, etc. usually leads to feelings of frustration and social withdrawal.
Most patients don’t realize how much of life they’re missing out on while they can’t hear.
That’s why individuals who seek treatment for their hearing loss report seeing improvements in all aspects of their lives. They report better overall health, professional success, and emotional well-being.
One common misconception is that unless you are born deaf hearing loss only affects older adults.
Not true! Hearing loss can happen at any time, so it’s important to raise awareness for all ages.
At my office, Albany ENT & Allergy Services, we see children with noise exposure, older adults with ear infections, and everything in between!
Given the significant impact hearing loss has on an individual’s quality of life, we encourage that everyone gets their hearing checked.
Albany ENT & Allergy Services has offices located in Albany and in Clifton Park at the 1785 Specialty Medical Practices Building.