Vail Daily letter: May is Better Hearing Month
Did you know that you could permanently lose your hearing from exposure to loud noise? Thirty-six million Americans have hearing loss. One in three developed their hearing loss as a result of exposure to noise. This May, during Better Hearing Month, audiologists across the nation are encouraging Americans to protect their hearing by:
• Wearing hearing protection when around sounds louder than 85 decibels for a long period of time;
• Turning down the volume when listening to the radio, the TV, MP3 player or anything through ear buds and headphones; and
• Walking away from loud noise.
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 into electrical signals that travel to the brain. Once damaged, our hair cells cannot grow back, causing permanent hearing loss.
Although hearing problems are commonly associated with the normal aging process, more than half of all hearing-impaired persons are younger than 65. With the increased use of personal music players and earbuds, the number of Americans experiencing hearing loss at a younger age is growing.
The loudness of sound is measured in units called decibels. Noise-induced hearing loss can be caused by prolonged exposure to any loud noise over 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.
Hearing loss is the third most common health problem in the United States. 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 might have.
Dr. Daria Stakiw
Owner of Rocky Mountain Audiology, Edwards and Glenwood Springs