It’s 2019 and we’re certain you have improving your health on that resolution checklist. Each year we all resolve to eat healthier, exercise more, or quit drinking and smoking as a way to improve our overall health. Yet rarely do we think about our hearing health as part of our overall health. Hearing loss is more prevalent than you think; close to 48 million Americans are affected by it. If you haven’t already, add hearing health to that New Year’s resolution list and be on your way to improving your hearing health this year!
WHY HEARING TESTS MATTER
According to the Center for Hearing and Communication, people with hearing loss wait an average of seven years before seeking help. This is because hearing loss is often gradual, allowing us to make slight adjustments to our listening. Those with low to moderate hearing loss might not even be aware they have hearing loss due to this reason.
Hearing tests are important because they allow a hearing health professional to monitor changes in your hearing abilities over time and to provide early treatment if necessary. If you find yourself struggling in everyday conversations or turning up the volume on your TV, you may be suffering from some sort of hearing loss. Even if you believe that nothing is wrong with your hearing ability, getting a hearing test is important for your overall hearing health.
UNDERSTANDING SAFE SOUND LEVELS
Sounds are all around us. From the moment we wake up, we are exposed to them. From your alarm clock to the honks and sirens on your daily commute, these sounds may turn into unwanted noise that impacts your hearing health. That’s why it’s crucial in knowing how loud is too loud.
Sound is measured in decibels (dB) and the higher the number, the higher the intensity. According to audiologists, the safe level is 85 decibels (dB). For example, normal everyday conversation is measured at 60 dB, and a motorcycle engine running is 95 dB. Noise above 85 dB over a prolonged period of time may start to damage your hearing. Loud noise above 120 dB can cause immediate harm to your ears.
Hearing loss caused by noise, or Noise–induced Hearing Loss (NIHL), is the only type of hearing loss that is preventable, so it is important to take the necessary steps in protect our hearing health.
EASY STEPS TO PROTECT YOUR HEARING HEALTH
If you regularly find yourself in noisy environments, you should think about taking preventative measures to mitigate any potential hearing loss. Wear hearing protection, such as earplugs or earmuffs, when using loud equipment at work or at home. Foam earplugs are readily available at your local pharmacy. Earmuffs can be purchased at either sporting goods or safety equipment stores. If you need more specialized hearing protection, reach out to a hearing health clinic.
In addition to purchasing protection, limiting your exposure to noisy activities helps. You can monitor your listening level on the TV or on your music device. If you’re out and about in a louder environment, stay as far away as you can from the sound source.
HEALTHY DIETS AND LIFESTYLE HABITS IMPACT HEARING HEALTH
Although the leading cause for hearing loss is most associated to unsafe levels of noise exposure, research also links hearing loss to our diet and lifestyle habits. A well balanced diet not only impacts your weight, but the vitamins consumed within your daily diet helps maintain your long-term hearing.
Harmful lifestyle habits like smoking are also detrimental to our hearing health. A study published in Nicotine & Tobacco Research analyzed eight years of health data on over 50,000 people. The findings revealed that smokers were 1.2 to 1.6 times more likely to suffer from hearing loss compared to their non-smoking counterparts. The toxins and carcinogens can destroy vital hearing components within the inner ear and auditory processing nerves in our brain.
MAKE AN APPOINTMENT WITH AUDIOLOGY ASSOCIATES OF REDDING
If you’ve never set foot inside an audiologist’s office, be proactive and make that appointment to get your hearing tested today. Even your hearing is normal, it is important to establish a baseline to contrast future hearing tests and seek the right treatment. If the hearing test indicates some sort of hearing loss, our hearing health specialists at Audiology Associations of Redding will guide you and find out the best way to improve your hearing health moving forward!