An estimated 48 million Americans experience hearing loss, but only about one in five seek treatment. Delaying treatment can have devastating impacts on your job, health and relationships, which is why audiologists in Torrance and across the nation recommend early intervention for best outcomes.
Know the Risks
Hearing loss is a lonely, isolating experience. A study published in 2017 in Trends in Hearing concluded that hearing problems take a significant toll on relationships.
When hearing is poor, it doesn’t just affect your communication ability. One study published in 2018 in JAMA Otolaryngology – Head & Neck Surgery found that adults ages 50 and older with untreated hearing loss are 30 percent more likely to experience a fall, 40 percent more likely to be depressed and 50 percent more likely to develop dementia than those with normal hearing.
These risks are well-known and have been confirmed by a number of other studies, including several by Johns Hopkins. Lead hearing loss researcher at Johns Hopkins, Frank Lin, hypothesizes that when hearing loss is present, the brain strains itself over a long period of time to interpret sounds, making it more susceptible to cognitive decline. In addition, people with hearing loss are more likely to be socially isolated, a known risk factor for dementia.
Importance of Hearing Protection
Any sound over 85 dB – about the volume of highway traffic – can cause permanent damage over time. Inside the ear are stereocilia, which are tiny hair cells responsible for converting soundwaves into electrical energy that the brain interprets as sound. The stereocilia are extremely sensitive; once damaged by loud noise, they do not regenerate, and permanent hearing loss is the result.
According to the CDC, only eight percent of adults in the U.S. report regularly wearing protective headphones or earplugs at loud athletic and entertainment events. This is despite the fact that people who wear hearing protection are much less likely to experience temporary hearing loss – a sign of permanent damage – according to a 2016 Danish study.
Schedule a Hearing Test
Hearing loss is a progressive condition, so many people are unaware they’ve developed it until it’s beyond an easily treatable stage. The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association recommends that adults get a baseline hearing test around age 21, then a hearing screening every ten years until age 50. After age 50, hearing should be screened every three years. People with a family history of hearing loss or who are exposed to loud noises regularly should be tested more frequently.
For more advice about hearing loss or to schedule a hearing test, call the experts at Torrance Audiology.