Every year, a popular new year’s resolution people make is to live a healthier lifestyle. Health goals set for the new year typically consist of more exercise, eating healthier, and getting better rest. All of these things are highly important to our well-being, and can help us become the best version of ourselves. However, we often forget about one of the most valuable components to our health: the ability to hear.
Our hearing allows us to experience the small, everyday joys of life such as interacting with friends, listening to good music, and laughing at a funny line said on a TV show. We don’t realize how fortunate we are to experience these things until our hearing begins to deteriorate. At Lake Shore Audiology, our goal is to raise awareness on the importance of making your hearing health a priority. Just like you schedule annual doctors appointments and checkups, you should also be scheduling hearing tests.
Routine hearing tests allow our expert audiologists to catch and detect any signs of hearing loss in its early stages. Providing treatment for hearing loss early on can help prevent numerous health problems from developing down the line. For instance, it is not widely known that hearing loss is linked to various serious health conditions including: cardiovascular disease, depression, anxiety, dementia, balance issues, tinnitus, and more. Hearing health is a critical component to one’s well-being, When you make the decision to better your hearing, you will enhance several other areas in your life.
Hearing loss typically happens gradually and worsens over time. The rate of decline for hearing loss speeds up when treatment is not sought out in early on stages. The usual response for when one starts to suspect they may be experiencing issues with hearing is to ignore it. There are various reasons why people choose to ignore hearing loss. Many don’t think it’s something to worry about right away, and can “hear fine for the most part.” Others may be in denial and fear having a problem. So, they decide the best thing to do is push it to the side and act as if it doesn’t exist. The list of reasons goes on and on….
However, the longer you wait, the worse you are making things for yourself. According to the Hearing Loss Association of America [HLAA], people with hearing loss wait an average of 7 years before seeking help. This is a long enough time for any minor problem to turn into a major one. For instance, one may start out with mild to moderate hearing loss, but eventually over several years without treatment, may now be dealing with severe to profound hearing loss.
The bottom line is: Hearing health is taken for granted. Most people don’t think about caring for their hearing until they start experiencing problems with it. So, what can be done in hopes to get people to take hearing health more seriously?
First and foremost, awareness on the consequences of untreated hearing loss should be raised. For example, most people probably do not know that their hearing has a direct impact on their balance. Or, that good hearing helps keep the brain mentally sharp, and greatly reduces the chances of developing dementia.
Hearing Loss Leads to Various Health Problems
There are various health conditions that hearing is interconnected with.
Anxiety and Loneliness – Hearing loss can cause one to experience social anxiety and feelings of loneliness.
Dementia – With hearing loss, the risk of dementia is 5X higher.
Falls and Balance Issues – People with hearing loss are more prone to experience issues with balance, which often results in falls.
Cardiovascular Disease – CVD can reduce blood flow to the ear and in turn cause damage to different parts of the auditory system.
Diabetes – Hearing loss is twice as common in people with diabetes.
Depression – Those with untreated hearing loss commonly experience depression.
In order to prevent your hearing health from slipping away, there are several things you can do. Continue reading below for 5 things you can do in 2023 to take better care of your hearing health.
1) Get a Hearing Test
Day by day, it’s hard to detect if your hearing is steadily declining, and without a hearing test, how would you know how good or bad your hearing is? All too often, people like to self-diagnosis their hearing health and their estimated guess is almost never accurate. It’s very easy to overestimate or underestimate the severity of the type of hearing loss you are experiencing.
Audiologists have extensive training in ear, hearing, and balance disorders and can perform a full hearing test. This test will tell you the degree, type of hearing loss, and also will determine if you could be helped by hearing aids or some other types of assistive listening devices.
2. Wear Hearing Protection
If you work in an industry where loud noise is constant, it’s critical you are protecting your ears. Jobs and fields where this is common in include construction, music and arts, bartenders, first responders, and many more. Ear plugs and ear molds can help with limiting your exposure to loud sounds produced from construction tools, instruments, noisy crowds of people, airplanes, and more.
Lake Shore Audiology specializes in custom ear molds and ear plugs. We do this by taking a silicone mold of your ear and creating the mold from the impression. The molds are made from high quality materials and fit comfortably in your ears. This way, they won’t be bothering you during your long work shifts. Learn more about our custom ear mold and ear plug fitting services here.
3. Be Conscious of the Level you Listen to Music / Audio
Listening to music, podcasts, or any audio content through headphones can be very harmful to your hearing. Most iPhones and Smartphones now have built in features that alert users that the content they’re listening to is at a good level or that it’s too loud.
On your iPhone device, simply go to your settings, click control center, and tap on the hearing icon. Now, you can track how loud the audio you’re playing is and know when you should turn it down. Apple, Google, Samsung, and other brands are working on expanding features aimed to help those who currently experience hearing loss, as well as prevent people from experiencing it later on in life.
Learn more about what features are already available on your devices already here and what to expect in the near future here.
4. Be Aware of Noise-Induced Hearing Loss
What exactly is noise-induced hearing loss? As defined by the National Institute on Deafness and Other Disorders, noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) occurs when the structures in the ear are damaged by loud sounds.
It can be caused by a one-time exposure to an intense “impulse” sound, such as an explosion, or by continuous exposure to loud sounds over time, such as loud music, rock concerts, lawnmowers, woodworking tools, and more.
The louder the sound, the shorter amount of time it takes for NIHL to develop. You can reduce your chances of NIHL by wearing hearing protection, not sitting in the first row at concerts, lowering your sound when listening to music, etc.
These are all just examples. There are thousands of loud sounds people hear every day in the world. The most important thing you can do is have awareness that being close to these noise is dangerous, and know that the longer amount of time you spend near the source of the noise, the worse your NIHL will be.
At one point or another, you have probably heard someone say they are going to go “rest their eyes.” This is a common expression used when someone is saying they want to take a nap. Just like your eyes, your ears need rest too. Prolonged exposure to noisy environments can not only be draining to your energy, but can also cause damage to your hearing. Make sure to give your ears a break and go to a quiet environment to recharge.
Our expert audiologists at Lake Shore Audiology can help you improve the quality of your life, and allow you to be your best self this 2023. Schedule an appointment with us today by calling 716-674-4188. Wishing you a Happy and Healthy New Year!