According to the American Academy of Audiology, more than 36 million Americans suffer from hearing loss. While aging is the main cause of hearing loss, statistics indicate that more than 50 percent of people with hearing loss are younger than 65. The Hearing Loss Association of America states that hearing loss is the third most common health problem in the U.S., following arthritis and heart disease.
Certainly hearing loss can be caused by repeated exposure to loud noise, but other causes may not be as obvious. Frequent ear infections as a child, trauma to the ear and ear disease can trigger hearing loss later in life. Genetics may contribute to hearing loss, so if you have a family history of hearing loss, be sure to take preventive steps to protect your ears. Certain medications can lead to hearing loss as well. Talk with your physician before starting any prescription drugs to learn about potential side effects.
Symptoms of hearing loss are many and varied. If you are having conversations with others and frequently have to ask them to repeat what they are saying, or if everyone you talk to seems to be mumbling, you should consider getting your ears checked. Other symptoms include ringing, buzzing or hissing sounds in your ears.
In order to prevent hearing loss, it is important to educate yourself about how to protect your ears. Many occupations, such as military and manufacturing, have loud environments that can severely harm hearing ability. Ear protection should be used as directed if you work in a setting prone to noise. As a rule, if you are in an environment with sound louder than 85 decibels for any extended period of time, consider using foam earplugs. Other tactics include turning down the volume when listening to anything through headphones, walking away from noise and attending concerts in moderation.
Hearing loss is unfortunately on the rise - a 1971 survey indicated that approximately 13 million Americans were affected by it. With more than 20 million more Americans reporting hearing loss since then, it is more important than ever to take precautions when it comes to your hearing.