Vail health column: Take steps to protect your hearing
Did you know that you could permanently lose your hearing from exposure to loud noise? Thirty-six million Americans have hearing loss, and one in three developed their hearing loss as a result of exposure to noise.
This May, Better Hearing Month, audiologists across the nation are encouraging Americans to protect their hearing by doing the following:
• Wear hearing protection when around sounds louder than 85 decibels for a long period of time.
• Turn down the volume when listening to the radio, TV, MP3 player or anything through ear buds and headphones.
• Walk away from loud noises.
THERE’S NO GETTING IT BACK
Noise-induced hearing loss is caused by damage to the hair cells that are found in our inner ear. Hair cells are small, sensory cells that convert the sounds we hear (sound energy) into electrical signals that travel to the brain. Once damaged, our hair cells cannot grow back, causing permanent hearing loss.
The loudness of sound is measured in units called decibels. Noise-induced hearing loss can be caused by prolonged exposure to any loud noise higher than 85 decibels, such as concerts, sporting events, lawnmowers, fireworks, gun shots, custom car stereos at full volume and more. A brief exposure to a very intense sound, such as a gunshot near the ear, can also damage your hearing.
Noise is considered dangerous if you have to shout over background noise to be heard, it is painful to your ears, it makes your ears ring during and after exposure or if you have decreased or “muffled” hearing for several hours after exposure.
WHEN TO SEE AN AUDIOLOGIST
Hearing impairment not only affects your ability to understand speech, but it also has a negative impact on your social and emotional well-being. If you suspect you may have hearing loss, make an appointment to see an audiologist. He or she will perform a hearing test to determine the type and severity of hearing loss you may have.
For more information on hearing loss, levels of noise or to schedule an interview, contact us at either of our two locations or by email.
Dr. Daria Stakiw is a board-certified audiologist who owns Rocky Mountain Audiology with clinics in Glenwood Springs and Edwards. She has been practicing audiology in hospitals, clinics and the educational setting for more than 15 years. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or at a clinic at 970-945-7575 or 970-926-6660.