Thursday, May 27, 2010

Hearing loss: not just affecting seniors anymore

Hearing loss: not just affecting seniors anymore

More than 10 million people in America use hearing aids, and that number is growing every day. Even more surprising is that approximately 20 percent of these people are younger than 50.

Long considered a dilemma only for senior citizens, hearing loss is becoming more and more common, particularly in young adults. This may be due in large part to the onslaught of noisy products and situations brought on by modern day life. The constant barrage of decibels we encounter in today's busy landscape, from street noise to mp3 players, is taking a toll on our hearing at a younger age.

While some children use hearing aids to correct childhood or life-long health issues, many of the hearing problems audiologists are seeing today are largely preventable. Do you fit the profile for someone susceptible to early hearing loss?

Urbanites - People who live or work in urban areas are far more likely to be exposed to high-decibel sounds on a regular basis. Studies have found that anything over 85 decibels can permanently damage hearing. A functioning jackhammer can produce up to 115 decibels of sound while a car horn can produce up to 110 decibels, putting those living near these nuisances at increased risk.

Music fans - Adults as young as 20 are being treated for non-illness related hearing loss, much of which audiologists attribute to increased headphone use and loud concerts. The powerful speakers and mp3 players on the market today can produce up to 150 decibels of sound, enough to permanently damage delicate ear tissues. Take caution when using ear bud headphones and be sure to wear earplugs if you plan to be exposed to loud music for an extended period of time.

SCUBA divers - This "extreme" sport, growing rapidly in popularity among people of all ages, is responsible for some occurrences of torn or ruptured ear canals in adults. The pressure build-up experienced during a dive can easily wreak havoc on fragile ear muscles and membranes, causing irreparable damage. This damage frequently results in hearing loss, so be sure to use correct pressure-relieving methods and specially designed SCUBA earplugs when diving.

Medication - Certain medications, including some antibiotics and anti-inflammatory drugs, have been linked to increased risk of hearing loss. As children are particularly vulnerable to diseases requiring treatment using these types of medications, they are more prone to these ototoxic reactions. Be sure to speak to your doctor about what side effects the medicines you or your children are taking may potentially have, as this is a rare but preventable cause of premature hearing loss.

Despite the statistics, some people find it hard to believe that children as young as 5 years of age may need a hearing device or hearing-related surgery. While there are several different options for the hearing impaired, including cochlear implants or hearing therapy, many find relief through the use of hearing aid. Digital technology advancements in the past decades have made hearing aids far more reliable and undetectable than ever before, and many people find that their health insurance covers some or all of the cost. If you or your child is showing symptoms of early hearing loss, speak with an audiologist immediately to determine what steps you can take now to minimize the dangers.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

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