October is National Audiology Awareness Month, an opportunity for your Goodyear audiologist to spread awareness of the profession and share tips on protecting your hearing. With 48 million Americans experiencing hearing loss to some degree, a little prevention today can lead to a clearer tomorrow.
They say that knowledge is power. With this in mind, we’ll talk about some hearing loss facts and statistics.
Facts About Hearing Loss
- Approximately 48 million Americans suffer from hearing loss. That’s nearly 20 percent of the U.S. population.
- The idea that hearing loss only affects senior citizens is incorrect. People of all ages can develop hearing loss. In fact, only about one-third of hearing loss patients are older than 65.
- Sensorineural hearing loss, or nerve deafness, is the most common type. It is the result of damage to the inner ear and cannot be reversed. The good news? Most patients with sensorineural hearing loss benefit from hearing aids.
- Conductive hearing loss occurs as a result of damage to the outer or middle ear. This type is often reversible with medication or surgery. It is far less common, however; only 10 percent of hearing loss patients are diagnosed with conductive hearing loss.
- Presbycusis (age-related hearing loss) and noise-induced hearing loss are the most common causes. Both are the result of cumulative damage to the hair cells in the cochlea.
- Other causes of hearing loss include hereditary factors, head and neck trauma, diseases, earwax buildup, and certain medications, especially loop diuretics and chemotherapy drugs.
- One out of three adults aged 65 suffers from hearing loss. By the age of 75, that number increases to one out two.
- 2-3 out of every 1,000 babies are born with hearing loss. Most hospitals provide newborn hearing screenings shortly after birth in order to detect any problems as soon as possible – crucial given that children with hearing loss are at risk for delays in speech, social, and academic development.
- 85 decibels (dB) is considered the threshold for safe hearing. Any noise exceeding this level can cause permanent hearing loss.
- The louder the noise, the shorter your safe exposure time. Hearing loss can occur after eight hours of exposure to noise at 85 dB, but at 100 dB, your safe exposure time is only 15 minutes. Some sounds, like gunshots or explosions, can cause instant hearing loss.
- Hearing loss isn’t always easy to detect. Because the condition develops gradually, the brain adapts by diverting cognitive resources to assist in the hearing process. In fact, it takes the average person seven years to seek treatment for hearing loss.
Hearing Loss Prevention
The good news? One of the most common types of hearing loss – that caused by excessive noise exposure – can be prevented. When you are going to be exposed to loud noises for extended periods of time, wearing earplugs or other hearing protection can go a long way toward preventing damage to your hearing. Common activities in which you are likely to be subjected to loud noises include attending concerts and sporting events; operating machinery and other heavy equipment; riding motorcycles, jet skis, snowmobiles, or boats; and hunting. Be cognizant of noisy situations in order to protect your hearing!