It happens to a lot of us as we age. Our hearing begins to fail and sounds and voices are suddenly distorted or missing all together. I went for a few months thinking my grandfather was ignoring me before I realized he couldn’t hear me. It was a sudden and sad reminder that he is just not as young as he used to be.
Hearing loss doesn’t happen to everyone, but it’s quite common in the latter years of our lives. This is called presbycusis. Sometimes, it happens at a young age, and that usually has to do with a medical condition or an accident. There really aren’t any preventative measures for this type of hearing loss, but there are ways to protect your hearing against gradual hearing loss as you age.
Illness and Injury
There are many medical conditions that can result in hearing loss. Viruses and bacterium are common culprits, along with heart conditions, stroke, and direct injury to the ear.
Common illnesses include, mumps, meningitis, HIV and AIDS, chlamydia, syphilis, and measles. If you have any of these conditions and think you may be experiencing hearing loss, talk to your doctor. Remember that some medications can also cause hearing loss.
Musicians quite often experience hearing loss as they age due to exposure to loud music while rehearsing and playing. Many stage shows must be loud to ensure everyone in the audience can hear, and the stage monitor volume is quite loud as well. The constant exposure to high decibels will slowly erode your hearing.
This also can happen to those who like to listen to music with the volume turned up high. This can be especially damaging if the listener is using headphones. The constant assault of the music pointed directly at the eardrum causes damage that is most likely irreversible.
If you are constantly exposed to loud noises while you work, you can expect some hearing loss as you age. High-risk occupations include musician, farmer, military, construction workers, and some airline employees.
Early Warning Sign
Tinnitus is a common warning sign that your hearing has sustained damage, usually due to constant exposure to loud noises. This is commonly referred to as ‘ringing in the ears’ but can also be a swishing noise, or even a dull roaring sound. If you have any of these symptoms, see a doctor. It may not be reversible but your doctor can advise you on how to prevent further damage to your hearing.
If you don’t have tinnitus, there are other signs that may suggest your hearing is not up to par. You may find it hard to hear in a crowded room, from a distance, or you may find that voices that are very high or very low may be harder to understand. People may sound like they are mumbling or you constantly misunderstand what they are saying. If people complain you seem to be ignoring them, or that you always have the television too loud, you may want to consider you have sustained some hearing loss.
Anything above 85 decibels can cause damage to your hearing. If you are routinely exposed to noises and sounds above this level, protect your ears from hearing loss by wearing protective equipment. In most cases, this is as simple as wearing earplugs. You may not hear what is going on around you as well as you would like, but it will help save you from severe hearing loss in the future.
It only takes the sound of one gunshot at close range to cause permanent damage. Also remember to keep sharp objects away from your ear canal at all times, and to report any changes in your hearing to your doctor.
What Can You Do?
Visit your doctor. They may refer you to a specialist. There are quite a few types of hearing aids that may help you, and items that can help you with hearing loss when you can’t hear the television and other household items.
The sound of a jackhammer is very damaging, as it the constant noise of jets and other aircraft. Those who like to ride all terrain vehicles and shoot guns or rifles are also exposing their ears to damaging noises. Even if you have already sustained some damage, protecting your ears can help prevent further hearing loss.