October Is National Audiology Awareness Month—ENT And Allergy Specialists and The American Academy of Audiology Reminds The Public To Protect Its Hearing.
Untreated hearing loss is a risk factor for falls and dementia.
October is National Audiology Awareness Month. ENT and Allergy Specialists and the American Academy of Audiology are urging the public to know the importance of good hearing health.
“Make an appointment with an audiologist and get your hearing checked today,” said Talin Marino, Director of Audiology and Tinnitus/Hearing Aid Specialist. “Hearing is one of the most important aspects of our health – it connects us to people, keeps us vital in the workplace and as we age, and when left untreated is associated with other health issues.”
The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders states that approximately 28.8 million Americans could benefit from the use of hearing aids. While age is often cited as a factor, there are growing numbers of younger people reporting hearing difficulties.
A study published by the Lancet Commission on Dementia Prevention, Intervention and Care cited 11 risk factors for dementia including hearing impairment in mid-life. The report also stated that dementia typically starts many years before it is recognized. Treating hearing loss can maintain cognitive health by keeping the brain active and connected to your environment.
There is also a link between untreated hearing loss and falls. According to a study conducted by Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, an increase in hearing loss in an individual, for instance going from normal hearing to an untreated mild hearing loss, is associated with a 3-fold increase in fall risk.
One of the factors in maintaining healthy hearing is being conscious of the degree and amount of loud sound exposure. Many hearing losses are caused by damage to the tiny sensory receptors, or hair cells, in the inner ear. The damage can be caused by too much noise, and it is permanent; however, steps can be taken to prevent this damage because sound-induced hearing loss is 100% preventable. The simplest way to protect your hearing if you can’t avoid loud sounds is to wear hearing protection. An audiologist can help to identify the right hearing protection including custom hearing protection that can provide a comfortable fit and good sound quality.
The American Academy of Audiology states that lengthy or repeated exposure to noise above 85 decibels can damage hearing. To put that into perspective, noise from fireworks can reach up to 155 decibels. A jet plane taking off is estimated to be 150 decibels. Shooting a gun is around 140-175 decibels (depending on the gun). An amplified music concert and an MP3 player with the volume turned all the way up can be as high as 120 decibels or more. Movie action scenes in the theater have been known to reach 100 decibels. Outdoor sounds can pose a risk too. Lawn mowers are around 85 decibels and chain saws can be 115-120 decibels. Compare these with normal conversation that is around 40-60 decibels.
The four main ways to protect your hearing are:
E – earplugs
A – avoid loud sounds
R – reduce the volume of sounds
S – shorten time in loud environments
“There is no doubt that people are concerned about their health. However, they don’t often think about the importance of hearing health,” said Marino. “An audiologist educates patients about safe versus unsafe levels for listening. They utilize tools and share resources that empower patients to protect their hearing. Additionally, they perform hearing evaluations and facilitate rehabilitation efforts for hearing loss, tinnitus, and certain balance problems.”
“Anyone who suspects that his or her hearing has diminished should see an audiologist and get tested as soon as possible,” Marino recommended. “If you have never had a hearing test, it’s a great idea to establish a baseline, even if you are not noticing difficulty. Changes to hearing tend to happen gradually; by the time hearing loss is noticed, it may have been progressing for a while. There’s no two ways about it: Improving hearing improves quality of life – our ears are too important to put off taking care of them.”
About ENT and Allergy Specialists
ENT and Allergy Specialists is committed to providing the highest quality medical and surgical treatment for patients with ear, nose, and throat conditions including allergies, snoring/sleep apnea, sinusitis/balloon sinuplasty, eustachian tube balloon-plasty, tinnitus, affordable prescription hearing aids as well as cutting edge hearing aids.
The American Academy of Audiology is the world’s largest professional organization of, by and for audiologists. Representing the interests of audiologists and future audiologists nationwide, the Academy is dedicated to providing quality hearing care services through professional development, education, research, and increased public awareness of hearing and balance disorders. For more information, visit www.audiology.org.