Did you know that hearing loss is the third most common chronic health condition in the United States? And that almost twice as many people report hearing loss than those who report diabetes or cancer?(1) And untreated hearing loss is linked to falls and dementia?
The connection of hearing loss and Dementia: Midlife hearing loss is one of the risk factors for dementia.(2) Studies suggest that hearing loss causes brain changes that raise the risk for dementia.
The link of hearing and falls: According to a study conducted by Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, an increase in hearing loss in an individual (going from normal hearing to a mild hearing loss) is associated with a three-fold increase in reported falls over the past year.
Maintaining healthy hearing: One of the factors in maintaining healthy hearing is being aware of the degree and amount of loud sound exposure. More than 40 million Americans aged 20 to 69, have some type of hearing loss. And of those, 10 million are attributable to noise-induced hearing loss. The simplest ways to protect your hearing are to avoid loud noise or wear hearing protection. An audiologist (hearing doctor) can help you identify the right hearing protection including custom hearing protection that can provide a comfortable fit and good sound quality.
The American Academy of Audiology states that lengthy or repeated exposure to noise above 85 decibels, can damage hearing. So, what does that mean? Noise from fireworks can reach up to 155 decibels. A jet plan taking off is estimated to be 155 decibels. Shooting a gun is around 140-175 decibels. An amplified music concert, and an MP3 player with the volume turned all the way up, can be as high (or higher) as 120 decibels. Movie action scenes in the theatre have been known to reach 100 decibels. But outdoor sounds can pose a risk, too. Lawn mowers are around 85 decibels and chain saws can be 115-120 decibels. Compare these with normal conversation that is around 60-65 decibels.
Protect your hearing with EARS:
E – earplugs
A – avoid loud sounds
R – reduce the level of sounds
S – shorten time in loud environments
“There is no doubt people are concerned about their health. Often, though, they don’t think about the importance of hearing health,” said Catherine Palmer, PhD., president-elect of the American Academy of Audiology and also Associate Professor, University of Pittsburgh and Director of Audiology for the UPMC Health System. “An audiologist educates patients about safe versus unsafe levels for listening. They utilize tools and share resources that empower patients to protect their hearing. Additionally, they perform hearing evaluations and facilitate aural rehabilitation efforts for hearing loss, tinnitus and certain balance problems.”
If you are noticing that your hearing has diminished, visit an audiologist and get tested Protect your hearing – your health may depend on it.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
- Lancet Commission on Dementia Prevention, Intervention and Care