Hearing healthcare shouldn’t be put off until you get older. Preventive action can help ensure your ears hear well, whether you’re 6 or 60. Learn how to protect both your own ears, as well as younger family members’ ears, with our tips below.
Hearing Care Starts At BirthA new baby, or grandbaby, means new responsibilities, and that includes caring for their hearing health. Most children can hear sounds even before birth, starting with loved ones singing lullabies or talking. After birth, infants will imitate the sounds they hear to learn how to speak, often creating nonsense noises at first before exploding into what often feels like a new word every day. Being able to hear well is necessary for proper childhood development.
At birth, a baby will be tested for hearing loss. Even if a baby’s ears are healthy, you should keep an eye out for any changes.
Signs of hearing loss in toddlers or children include:
- Difficulty understanding what people are saying
- Speaking differently compared to other children their age
- Not replying to their name
- Academic problems
- High television volume, or sitting very close to the television to hear
- Earaches or pain
- Being flagged for a learning disorder or ADHD. If a child is being tested, be sure to get them tested for hearing loss as well. Hearing loss can mimic learning disorder symptoms.
The Rebellious Teen YearsAs you may remember, being a teenager is a time of self-discovery, rebellion, and plenty of embarrassing moments. The teen years can be tough. Whether that means studying hard, playing football, or dyeing their hair bright blue, a teenager needs to take care of their ears, whether they like it or not. Although many individuals are born with hearing loss, hearing loss can develop over time, especially in adolescence and young adulthood.
Many instances of hearing loss can be traced back to headphone usage, especially at high volumes. According to the American Osteopathic Association, 1 in 5 teenagers will experience some form of hearing loss, which is at a 30% higher rate than it was 20 years ago. Headphones can produce sounds up to 120 decibels, the equivalent of the noise at a concert. At this level, hearing loss can occur after only 1 hour and 15 minutes. As a rule, headphones should be used below 60% maximum volume, and only for a total of 60 minutes a day.1
Although teenagers can be stubborn, it is important that you educate them on how important their hearing health is. Whether they’re listening to Top 40 hits, obscure indie bands their peers have never heard of, or a new cool sports podcast, make sure they keep the volume at a reasonable level so they can enjoy music and sound for the rest of their life.
Signs of hearing loss due to headphone usage include the following:
- Ringing or buzzing in the ears
- Difficulty understanding speech in noisy places
- Muffled sounds, or feeling the ears are plugged
- High volume of television or radio
All Grown UpFor most, entering adulthood means entering the workforce. Significant hearing loss can occur while on the job. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recommends that workers not be exposed to volumes of more than 85 decibels over 8 hours. The organization also estimates that roughly 30 million U.S. workers are exposed to noise levels that can cause hearing loss. Even further, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 200,000 workplace hearing loss cases occur annually.2,3
While you may have great hearing from years of following headphone safety rules, safety doesn’t stop now. When working around loud machinery, make sure to follow proper safety precautions, such as wearing earmuffs or earplugs.
Ear protection can reduce volume by 15 to 30 decibels when worn properly. Earplugs are recommended for low-frequency noise, such as loud machinery, while earmuffs are better for high-frequency noise, such as pneumatic tools.4 Be sure to follow the proper workplace safety instructions provided to you by your employer and keep your ears healthy for years to come.
The Golden YearsHearing loss is one of the most common conditions affecting older adults. One in three people between the ages of 65 and 74 have hearing loss, and almost half of those older than 75 have hearing loss.5
Regardless of how well you care for your ears, you can still experience hearing loss as you get older. This is perfectly normal and can happen to anyone. Presbycusis, or age-related hearing loss, usually comes on gradually as someone ages. We recommend getting your ears checked annually starting at age 60.
Hearing loss can be related to life experiences, such as long-term exposure to loud noise, but it can also be inherited or simply due to aging. Other health conditions, such as heart disease or diabetes, can also affect age-related hearing loss.
Hearing loss can feel embarrassing, but it doesn’t have to be. Don’t miss out on important family events due to hearing loss. If you have hearing loss, try not to let it interrupt your time with loved ones. At family gatherings, sit in an area without loud noises. If you wish to speak with your children or grandchildren, consider speaking to them individually and sit in a quieter area to properly hear every word. Most importantly, utilizing advanced hearing aid technology can help someone with hearing loss live a happy and healthy life and experience every sound life has to offer.
Some signs of hearing loss to watch for as you get older include:
- Other people’s speech sounds muffled
- Trouble hearing high-pitched noises or voices
- Difficulty understanding conversations
- Some sounds may seem extremely loud or annoying
- Symptoms of tinnitus, or a ringing sound in one or both ears
Get Your Hearing Checked TodayHearingLife has more than 640 offices across the country. Take advantage of our complimentary hearing assessments, available at most locations, by visiting the nearest HearingLife office, and discover the life-changing magic of hearing aids. Visit hearinglife.com for more information.