Did you know that one of the most common New Year’s resolutions is to “stay fit and healthy”? While that resolution usually suggests physical fitness and going to the gym, we hope you consider another aspect of your health: your hearing health.
In the United States, about 20% of people experience hearing loss. For those over 65 years old, one in three experience hearing loss. At age 75 or older, 50% of people experience hearing loss. At the same time, younger populations are also experiencing hearing loss at higher rates than previous generations due to exposure to loud noise and using earbuds and personal electronic devices.
In 2023, we hope you consider healthy hearing for the new year. Here are some steps you can take to protect your hearing and ensure your optimal hearing health.
Protect Your Hearing
Exposure to loud noise in a single event rarely causes permanent hearing loss. Still, over time, the gradual deterioration of your inner ear hair cells could lead to sensorineural hearing loss. There are several ways to protect your hearing.
Use hearing protection
How often do you think about the loudness of the sounds around you? New studies have shown that people living in cities are at higher risk of hearing loss due to exposure to loud noises. That being said, people living in suburban or rural areas are also exposed to loud noises daily. Whether it’s a motorcycle engine, a lawnmower, or a hunting rifle, the loudness of decibels can permanently damage your hearing if you don’t protect it. Occupational hearing loss is also one of the significant work-related injuries in the US. Talk to your employer if you work in a particularly loud industry (construction, manufacturing, etc.) and don’t use ear protection.
Consider using earplugs when pursuing activities that might expose you to loud sounds. Customized earplugs are even better, as they are molded to fit your ears and thus provide more protection.
Use Noise-Canceling Headphones
Nowadays, almost all of us use those convenient little earbuds that come with our smartphones. We use them to make phone calls and listen to music and videos. While they are portable and convenient, these earbuds could do a lot of harm to your hearing. Their proximity to your eardrums and the anatomical shape of your ear canals mean that sounds are louder than they appear. In fact, hearing specialists have compared the level of sounds fed by earbuds to standing next to a drill in a coal mine.
Make the switch to noise-canceling headphones. These do a great job of blocking out external noises, so you don’t have to turn up the volume as high as you would with earbuds. Adhere to the 60-60 rule: listen to music at 60% volume for no more than 60 minutes at a time.
Schedule an Annual Hearing Test
Hearing specialists recommend an annual hearing test for people aged 50 and older. According to the Hearing Loss Association of America, people wait approximately seven years between the time they first experience changes in their hearing to the time they decide to seek treatment. During this time, many negative health consequences may develop, from an increased risk of stress and anxiety to an increased risk of dementia.
Treating hearing loss early on is the best action, as it brings significant health and lifestyle benefits.
Annual hearing tests – regardless of your hearing abilities – ensure that you are always aware of your current hearing abilities. They also give you records so that if hearing loss does develop, we can work with you to find the best treatment immediately.
Get Your Hearing Aids Updated
If you wear hearing aids, it’s important to remember that they don’t last forever. In fact, hearing aids have a shelf life of five to seven years! At the same time, our hearing abilities are constantly changing. If it’s been a while since your last visit, contact us to schedule a hearing aid maintenance check and a hearing test. We’ll ensure your hearing aids are functioning correctly for your current hearing abilities.
If you’re interested in investing in a new pair of hearing aids, there’s no better time than now! With huge advancements in hearing aid technology in the last year, there are exciting new options that provide a natural and seamless listening experience.
Please schedule a consultation and hearing test with us today for all your hearing health needs.