This month is a great reminder to prioritize your hearing health! Hearing loss is the third most common chronic medical condition that people experience today. Learn about the ways you can reduce your risk and protect your hearing health!
Loud Noise & Hearing Loss
Loud noise is one of the leading causes of hearing loss. As electronic devices have become more integrated into daily life, the risk of developing noise-induced hearing loss has increased. The World Health Organization estimates that over 1 billion people are vulnerable to experiencing hearing loss caused by exposure to loud noise from electronic devices as well as in larger social venues. This population disproportionately consists of younger people who use these devices regularly.
Loud noise can damage critical components of the auditory system, consisting of the ears and brain which work together to absorb and process sound. Specifically, loud noise can affect the sensory cells in the inner ear. There are thousands of these tiny cells (also referred to as hair cells) in the cochlea and their primary role is to help translate incoming soundwaves into electrical signals. These signals then travel to the brain where they are further processed and given meaning, allowing us to understand the speech and sound we hear. Loud noise can cause these hair cells to lose sensitivity and eventually die. Because these cells do not generate and there are no medical interventions that can replenish them, this damage produces a permanent hearing loss.
Tips to Protect Your Hearing Health
It is incredibly important to implement safety measures that protect your hearing from the impact loud noise can have. There are numerous tips you can integrate into daily life including:
- Wear protective gear: protective gear for the ears can include earmuffs, earbuds, headphones, and other custom-made earpieces that sit in the ear canal. This offers a protective barrier for the ears that reduces the number of soundwaves you absorb, also minimizing the impact of loud noise. Wearing protective gear is incredibly useful while navigating nosier settings (concerts, commuting, workplace, etc.).
- Invest in noise cancellation headphones: listening to the audio on electronic devices is one of the most common ways that people are exposed to loud noise. By investing in noise cancellation headphones, you can listen to audio safely. Noise cancellation technology is designed to reduce background noise which prevents people from increasing the volume on their device while in louder settings. This allows you to maintain lower volume settings, reducing the risk of damaging your hearing
- Reduce loud noise exposure: you can practice other ways to reduce your exposure to loud noise which can include: avoiding places like restaurants during peak hours, driving with car windows rolled up to avoid environmental noise, monitoring noise levels, etc.
- Take breaks: we are constantly abos benign and processing sound throughout the day which is a lot of work for the ears and brain. Taking breaks is a useful way to provide the auditory system with the space to rest and replenish. You can do this by turning off sources of noise (television, music, household appliances, etc.), and being in the quiet for a little amount of time.
- Have hearing tested: another important way to protect your hearing health is to have your hearing assessed by a hearing healthcare specialist. Hearing tests involve a noninvasive and painless process that measures hearing capacity in both ears. This determines any hearing loss and the degree of impairment. Once hearing needs are established, a hearing healthcare provider can recommend effective treatment options.
Assessing your hearing and treating any degree of hearing loss can transform your overall health.
Benefits of Treating Hearing Loss
Treating hearing loss offers life-changing benefits. In addition to alleviating the symptoms that often take a toll on daily living, treatment:
- Enhances communication: the most common treatment for hearing loss is hearing aids which help detect and process sound. This maximizes hearing which enables people to navigate conversations with greater ease.
- Improves Relationships: effective and consistent communication is necessary for healthy relationships. Treating hearing loss allows people to spend quality time with others.
- Enriches social life: hearing aids provide ample support as people navigate social activities, conversations with multiple people, and in social environments.
Treating hearing loss also improves overall health by reducing health risks like the development of cognitive decline, depression, and accidental injuries. Hearing aids strengthen cognitive capacities and enable people to navigate daily life more independently and confidently!