Each October we highlight the importance of our hearing.  Hearing connects us to people, and it is critical for us at work.  As we get older, untreated hearing loss is directly linked to cognitive issues such as dementia.

The National Institutes of Health’s National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders states that approximately 28.8 million Americans could benefit from the use of hearing aids. While age is often cited as a factor, there are growing numbers of younger people reporting hearing difficulties.

A study published by the Lancet Commission on Dementia Prevention, Intervention and Care cited 11 risk factors for dementia including hearing impairment in mid-life. The report also stated that dementia typically starts many years before it is recognized. Untreated hearing loss can impact the brain and cognitive health.

There is also a link between untreated hearing loss and falls. According to a study conducted by Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, an increase in hearing loss in an individual, for instance going from normal hearing to an untreated mild hearing loss, is associated with a three-fold increase in fall risk

One of the factors that we can control in order to maintain healthy hearing is being conscious of the degree and amount of noise exposure. Excessive noise can cause damage to the tiny hair cells in the inner ear which can lead to permanent hearing loss.  The American Academy of Audiology states that lengthy or repeated exposure to noise above 85 decibels can damage hearing. To put that into perspective, noise from fireworks can reach up to 155 decibels. A jet plane taking off is estimated to be 150 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.

Anyone suspecting that his or her hearing has diminished should have a complete Audiological evaluation performed by a licensed Clinical Audiologist. This will determine the degree and type of hearing loss you may have. At that point an appropriate treatment plan can be discussed. Some types of hearing loss can be treated medically or surgically.  Others can be successfully helped with the use of hearing aids.  It is also important to follow up each year with a hearing test to see if there has been any change in your hearing that might now require intervention.

To learn more about your hearing go to advancedaudiology.net.  To schedule a complete Audiological evaluation, you can speak with our office manager Luz at 917-441-6094.