Loss of hearing or eye sight or any other function of our body that we usually take for granted could be devastating. And it is for sure a life changing experience, both for a person who suffered a loss and for the people surrounding her daily.
May is National Better Hearing and Speech Month. It is important to emphasize one time more to ourselves and to our friends and family the importance of treating even a slight notice of hearing loss as a serious condition.
Here’s some not-so-fun statistics that will perk your ears up:
- 5% to 40% of people over 65 already have some degree of hearing loss (according to the National Institutes for Health (NIH))
- The number of Americans affected by hearing loss is also expected to shoot up—from about 36 million Americans today to 78 million by the year 2030
So, what are those contributing factors of hearing loss? Here are the most common reasons why people lose their precious gift of hearing:
- Exposure to noise ~ 37%
- Infection or injury (17.1% of cases)
- Born with hearing loss (4.4% of cases)
- Other causes (16.8% of cases)
As you see that the leading cause of hearing loss is NOISE. Is it preventable? You bet it is. Lower the volume in your ear-phones when you’re on the phone or just listening to music. Huge concerts with hundreds of decibels of sound could put you in the risk group of those with hearing loss, especially if you frequent them. These are the “common sense” measures that are available to anybody. We just need to adhere to them.
The The New York Eye and Ear Infirmary (NYEE) has released a new Public Service Announcement featuring trumpeter and composer Chris Botti and composer, singer, and activist Sting. The Announcement was created to raise awareness about hearing loss, particularly among baby boomers and urges viewers to visit http://iLikeMyHearing.org
Watch Chris Botti and Sting Shine In this Public Awareness Campaign
I had a privilege to ask Dr. Ronald A. Hoffman, MD, who is a Medical Director at the Ear Institute at the New York Eye and Ear Infirmary, my questions. He answered up to a point what you and I need to pay attention to when it comes to our hearing.
Just knowing briefly what needs to be done would help us to identify risk factors for hearing loss and to catch it early.
• What is an indication of hearing loss? And what are early signs that should not be ignored and taken to the doctor?
The earliest sign of hearing loss is difficulty hearing in a noisy environment, such as a restaurant or when a band is playing. If you are asking friends and relatives to repeat themselves, that is another warning.
• Are there any prevention measures against hearing loss? Statistically, is it women or men who lose their hearing more frequently?
The best prevention is to avoid loud noise. If a woman comes out of a loud concert or similar event and her ears feel full and there is ringing in the ears, that woman has likely suffered a transient hearing drop. This will recover over 24 hours, but repeated exposure leads to permanent hearing loss.
Overall, the incidence of hearing loss is about the same for men and women.
• What are the leading causes for hearing loss?
Primarily exposure to loud sound.
• What do I do if I or someone close to me lost their hearing?
Consult with a licensed audiologist or see your family physician. It is easy to do a hearing test, totally noninvasive, takes 20 minutes to complete.
• What are the support groups out there available to deal with hearing loss?
There are many. May I suggest you consult the New York Eye & Ear Infirmary site regarding hearing loss.
Please support this Public Awareness Campaign by Retweeting this message to as many people as possible. Let’s show our unity and spread awareness about Hearing Preservation:
— Celebrate Woman (@DiscoverSelf) May 22, 2012
• Hearing Self-Assesment Test (if you’re not sure whether you need to see a specialist or not)