The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports two out of 10 people in the U.S. between the ages of 20 and 69 have permanent hearing loss. However, for many, hearing loss is preventable. There are things you can do now to protect one of your most vital senses.
A multi-university study found one billion people are expected to lose their hearing. And it’s not just affecting the elderly.
“Age doesn’t really seem to play a role here; it can be somebody very young or very old,” said Dr. Mark Widick, a Neural Otolaryngologist Specialist with ENT Associates of South Florida.
The CDC said safe listening occurs at 85 decibels, which is equivalent to a food blender. Things such as blow dryers and lawnmowers exceed the safe levels. City traffic comes in at 90 decibels, listening to music from your smartphone can be as high as 105 decibels, and event venues emit noises as loud as 104 to 112 decibels.
Your overall health can also contribute to hearing loss. Types 1 and 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol affect almost every cell in the body, including the ears.
Even pain relievers, like aspirin and ibuprofen, could do damage in high amounts.
Also, try using noise-canceling headphones to reduce background noise. If you are in an area where you can’t control the sound levels, stand farther away from the speakers and take a break from the noise every 15 minutes.
Make sure to also give your hearing a break for at least 18 hours after lots of loud noises.
“There’s no shame in getting your hearing tested,” said audiologist Dr. Ann Eddins.
If you have trouble hearing high-pitched sounds like your doorbell or telephone, it could be one of the first signs you’re experiencing hearing loss. If this happens, be sure to consult your doctor.