We’ve all heard the statistics and seen the proof for ourselves. Seeing an older person with a hearing aid is an expected thing. Afterall 2/3rds of adults age 70 and older experience hearing loss. As we age, the statistic grows too. Of people ages 85 and above, 4/5ths of them live with hearing loss.
Although we assume this is a problem that goes hand in hand with aging, the fact that a whopping 15 percent of people ages 45 to 64 live with hearing loss serves to contradict this assumption. Moreover, there are eight million people in the U.S. between the ages of 18 and 44 who live with hearing loss on a daily. This startling statistic reinforces the message the American Speech-Language Hearing Association is trying to get out about the importance of hearing screening.
The earlier one participates in preventative care and screening, the more likely that individual won’t become a part of the statistic as they live their daily lives. Here are some things you can do to protect your hearing
Wear Ear Plugs
Toss a pair of throwaway plugs in your car, your jacket, or your bag and use them anytime you find yourself in a consistently noisy situation such as festivals, concerts, loud work environments, assemblies, noisy restaurants, etc. While one exposure may not do much damage, repeated exposure to noise over time will undoubtedly result in an environmentally induced hearing loss.
Have Your Hearing Screened On A Regular Basis
Knowledge is power. Knowing the state of your hearing will empower you to protect the hearing you have, whether it’s 100% or 88%. If you do have hearing loss, this will serve as an opportunity to discuss treatment and mitigation options with a hearing health professional so that you can live with the highest degree of hearing available to you.
You can take free online hearing tests to get a baseline of your hearing or have your hearing screened by a professional for a more in-depth hearing evaluation and assessment of your current levels and deficits.
Avoid Prolonged Exposure to Noise
If you can avoid noisy situations and environments, then do just that. Choose quiet restaurants and entertainment options over noisy ones. Wear protective hearing devices. Don’t expose your children to prolonged noise levels.
Discuss The Stigma Of Hearing Loss
Many young people who have hearing loss will not get it diagnosed because of internal and external stigma around the use of hearing aids. Increasing the dialogue we have with each other and professionals about these stigmas will empower young people to consult with hearing health professionals to get the help they need.
Hearing loss isn’t just an elderly population problem. While we need to continue to focus on ensuring the older population has access to affordable hearing healthcare and hearing aids, we also need to focus attention on our hearing health. This focus includes regular screenings, avoiding loud environments, and dialogue about stigma related to hearing aids and age.