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Healthy Living: Treating Hearing Loss with Prevention

by John O’Connor

Hearing loss is an overlooked area of health, but it is an important one. Hearing affects every aspect of life, from personal relationships to professional pursuits. Hearing loss causes enormous stress that a person feels physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. This can negatively impact their relationships and health.

Hearing Loss Statistics

According to the latest statistics, 36 million American adults have hearing problems. The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) links the majority of hearing loss with age.

It is evident that hearing loss is an inevitable part of growing older. Nearly 20 percent of Americans between the ages of 45 and 65 have hearing problems. That number increases to 30 percent for people 65 years and older. By age 75, nearly 50 percent of Americans have some degree of hearing loss.

While hearing loss is definitely an age-related concern, hearing problems can occur any time during a person’s life. Three out of every 1,000 children are born deaf, and 15 percent of Americans over the age of 20 have high frequency hearing loss due to loud sound and noise exposure.

Unfortunately, few people with hearing loss ever get the help they need. The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) says only one-fifth of those with hearing loss use a hearing aid or other assistive listening device.

Hearing Loss Treatment

People do not have to suffer with hearing loss. Help is available for children and adults with hearing problems. Earwax removal, a hearing aid and cochlear implants are three treatment options that can reverse or reduce hearing loss. Many people also benefit from assistive listening devices and equipment that improves television and telephone sounds.

Of course, the best way to treat hearing loss is to prevent it in the first place. Age, genetics, illness and medication side effects are risk factors that may contribute to nerve cell damage in the inner ear. For the most part, they cannot be prevented. Infections and bone growths in the ear may also not preventable, although they can be treated. But, hearing damage from noise exposure can be prevented or minimized. A healthy, cautious lifestyle can help reduce the risks of ear damage and hearing loss.

Hearing Loss Prevention

In fact, hearing loss prevention starts with healthy living. A healthy diet and exercise are the cornerstones. Physical activity and good nutrition are important because they affect health conditions that can cause hearing problems. Diabetes, for example, increases the risk of both hearing and vision loss.

Along with healthy eating and regular exercise, protecting the ears is essential to prevent hearing loss. Protecting the ears can be anything from turning down the volume on a television or music player to wearing earplugs at a construction site or sporting event.

Hearing Loss Testing

In addition to protecting the ears from damaging sounds, hearing loss prevention includes regular hearing tests. These tests are especially important for people who work in noisy environments. Construction workers, farmers and factory workers are especially vulnerable to noise damage. Early detection of hearing problems enable people to take further steps to protect their ears and hearing.

The Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER) stresses the importance of regular testing, which can include general screenings, tuning fork tests and audiometer tests. These tests help audiologists properly diagnose hearing loss so they can recommend appropriate treatment.

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Be healthy & happy, Dr. Tijana

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