October isn’t just the month when leaves change, Halloween decorations go up and you nearly OD on pumpkin spice flavors; it’s also National Audiology Awareness Month. Established in 2008 by the American Academy of Audiology, its intent is to raise awareness about hearing health and the importance of hearing protection. Considering that hearing loss affects roughly one in five individuals in West Chester, it’s clear that a month devoted to knowledge of this widespread condition is invaluable.
Facts About Hearing
Hearing loss is the third most common physical condition in the U.S., behind only arthritis and heart disease. Here are some helpful facts about hearing impairment and protection.
- 48 million Americans experience hearing loss to some degree.
- Hearing loss affects people of all ages—not just older individuals. Only one-third of patients are 65 or older.
- Sensorineural hearing loss, or nerve deafness, affects the inner ear. It is the most common type of hearing impairment; about nine out of ten patients with hearing loss experience this type. Damage to the inner ear is permanent, but most patients can benefit from wearing hearing aids.
- Conductive hearing loss is the result of damage to the outer and/or middle ear. Unlike nerve deafness, patients with this type of hearing loss can often reverse it with surgery or medications. About 10 percent of patients with hearing loss have this type.
- The most common causes of hearing loss are aging and noise exposure. Both are the result of cumulative damage to the hair cells of the inner ear. Other causes of hearing loss include disease, head and neck trauma, hereditary factors and medications.
- One out of three adults has hearing loss by the age of 65. At 75, that number is closer to one in two.
- 2-3 out of every 1,000 babies are born with hearing loss. The majority of hospitals rely on newborn hearing screenings to detect problems as soon as possible. Early detection is crucial; children with hearing impairments may suffer from delays in speech-language, social and academic development.
- 85 decibels (dB) is considered the threshold for safe noise exposure. The higher the sound, the less safe exposure time you have before hearing damage occurs. It takes eight hours to experience hearing loss when noises measure 85 dB; at 100 dB, that time is reduced to only 15 minutes.
- In most cases, hearing loss develops gradually, making it difficult to detect. Studies show an average of seven years elapses from the onset of hearing loss to the first steps in seeking medical care. The brain fills in the missing gaps by using cognitive resources to assist in the hearing process rather than other key areas such as concentration and memory, but this increases the risk of a variety of social, psychological and physical health effects.
- The most common type of hearing loss—noise exposure—can be prevented by wearing earplugs or other forms of hearing protection. These should be used whenever you are participating in noisy activities (e.g., concerts, sporting events, riding motorcycles).
Because early treatment is your best defense against long-term health complications, your West Chester audiologist recommends having your hearing tested on a regular basis. If it’s been a while since you’ve had a hearing evaluation, schedule an appointment ASAP.
Learn More About Tinnitus
- Blame it on the Genes: Can Hearing Loss Be Inherited?
- Hearing Loss Affecting My G-g-generation
- Hearing Loss Affects People in Their 30s and 40s, Too
West Chester ENT Office Locations
795 East Marshall Street #303
West Chester, PA 19380