Hearing loss is a significant and growing public health issue—for people of all ages. Though 36 million adults suffer, only 1 out of 5 people who could benefit from a hearing aid actually wears one. Approximately 15% (26 million) Americans between the ages of 20 and 69 have high frequency hearing loss due to exposure to loud sounds or noise at work or in leisure activities. One in 5 kids ages 12–19 is suffering from hearing loss, an increase of 31% since the late 1980s/early 1990s. This is a trend that coincides with skyrocketing use of personal audio technology.
Hearing loss can be present at birth or acquired. Although newborn hearing screening is widespread in the United States, hearing issues may develop after children leave the hospital. They also may result from ear infections, other illnesses such as chicken pox or influenza, head injury, or noise exposure. Hearing loss is often developed over time because of genetics or noise exposure. Unfortunately, studies show that patients wait an average of 7 years from the time they first notice symptoms of hearing loss to when they seek treatment. Untreated hearing loss has been linked to dementia, Alzheimer’s Disease, increased blood pressure and brain atrophy, as well as social isolation and depression.
In adults, signs of hearing loss include:
- Buzzing or ringing in the ears
- Failure to respond to spoken words
- Turning up the television or music louder than is comfortable for others
- “hearing but not understanding”
- Avoiding conversation or social situations
Ninety-five percent of hearing loss can be effectively treated, but the best way to address hearing loss is to prevent it by using keeping down volume on personal audio devices, wearing hearing protection when exposed to loud environments, and getting your hearing tested by an audiologist if you experience any symptoms of hearing loss. If you have any questions or would like to schedule an evaluation with one of our audiologists, please give us a call at 801-770-0801.