Hearing loss is a silent epidemic

Hearing loss is a silent epidemic. Silent, because it’s an invisible disability, and also because those who experience it, live in a world gone quiet, but are too embarrassed to seek help. People with hearing loss often become depressed, withdrawn and isolated. The cause and effect are saddening- because it need not be so!

Hearing loss is a decreased sensitivity to sound input, and becomes particularly relevant when the hearing loss affects our ability to hear speech clearly. It usually becomes evident to us in more difficult listening conditions first, such as, in noisy restaurants, in group conversations, using television, and with poorer speakers or people who speak with a different accent to our own. Most people with hearing loss will feel that other people mumble. They have to ask for repetition more often, and miss the punchline of jokes and stories. They will sometimes jump to the wrong conclusion, put the TV or radio up to a level that is uncomfortable for others, or withdraw- because socialising is too much effort.  People with hearing problems have to focus on your face more intently, concentrate more intensely, and become fatigued more easily.

Adult acquired hearing loss is the type of hearing loss that occurs during adult life, due to genetics, noise exposure, trauma, toxins and medication, illness and infection, or natural ageing. The myth is that you ‘go deaf’, but in reality, adult hearing loss is likely to be a decrease in loudness and clarity Replica Watches, due to the loss of hearing in certain pitch-regions of the ear. Some types may be treated by medical or surgical intervention, but many types are slowly progressive and need therapeutic intervention- usually in the form of sound amplification. In any case of hearing loss, early identification and management can contribute to the preservation of the remaining hearing, and is thus absolutely VITAL.

A 2008 study of the US population placed hearing loss as an issue for 16.1% of US adults, with 66% of those over 70 experiencing problems, and 8.5% of young adults, aged 20-24 years identifying a change in hearing. Due to our high levels of exposure to sound, the numbers are constantly increasing and becoming prevalent at a younger age. The interaction between loud sound, and also the amount of time we are exposed to it, cannot be underestimated when we look at the prevalence of hearing loss.  

There is also an increase in reports of tinnitus (ringing in the ears), because of noise exposure, but also due to increased knowledge of, and management of the condition. Tinnitus is rarely a dangerous symptom, and is usually linked to hearing loss in about 80% of cases. The most important aspect of it is that it appears to be the body’s response to decreased sound stimulation from the outside. However, since it can sometimes represent conditions that are of greater concern, if you have tinnitus, you should see an audiologist and have your condition assessed.

There is so much we can do to prevent hearing loss. Becoming proactive in assessing our hearing at a young age and monitoring the results over time gives us a tremendous tool in our own knowledge of our own hearing. Then, we need to eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly, and avoid drugs, alcohol and cigarettes. In addition, we should be aware of prescribed medications that can cause hearing loss, and choose to sit in silence and give our ears a rest from time to time. Using ear protection when we go to noisy places such as clubs and concerts or participate in loud hobbies (such as playing a musical instrument) will create a better hearing lifestyle.

Finally, if you are experiencing any additional difficulty in following a conversation with ease, (particularly in a noisy place) or experiencing any new symptom, such as ringing in the ears or dizziness, you should see an audiologist who can ensure that your hearing is not to blame. If you have Audemars Piguet Replica normal hearing, and want to keep it that way, seeing an audiologist for a baseline test and some ear protection will go a long way to preserving it!

This article has been provided by Natalie Buttress of NB Hearing, Sea Point, Cape Town. More info re Natalie can be found by clicking here.


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