Hearing Loss is a lot more common than most people think. In fact, it is the third most prevalent health problem in the United States, and the rate is on the rise.
In 1971, an estimated 13.2 million Americans had hearing loss problems. Today, about 36 million Americans have reportedly lost their hearing. Quality of life particularly career and relationships is at stake.
Age, illness, genetic, and environment all contribute to this ailment.
Loss of hearing is a known part of aging. One out of three people who are ages 65 to 74 years old has experienced hearing loss. People 75 years and older are at much greater risk. Medical experts theorize that the long exposure to noise and other damaging elements may be the reason hearing goes away with aging.
It’s also known that genes play a role in this predicament. Hearing loss is more common in people who have first-degree relatives who have the same problem.
Apart from that, certain illnesses may also contribute. These include heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes, as these interfere with the blood supply going to the ears. Ear diseases like Otosclerosis and Ménière’s disease affect the middle ear and inner ear, respectively. Both ailments lead to hearing loss. Trauma such as skull fracture or punctured eardrum along with infection or earwax can also cause this health problem.
In the environment, long-term exposure to excessive noise puts your ears at great risk. For example, if you are working in an area that exposes you to dangerous levels of noise every day, you can suffer from hearing loss even before you reach old age. About 44 percent of carpenters and 48 percent of plumbers are affected by this problem.
Similarly, those who work in mining, transportation, agriculture, and military also experience the same predicament. And it’s not just in the workplace. If you live in an area where there is constant loud noise such as near a train station or airport, chances are you might lose your hearing sometime in your lifetime.
The primary symptom of hearing loss is of course, decrease of ability to recognize and understand sounds and voices. A person affected by this problem will find himself/herself struggling to hear what people are saying or be surprised that he/she didn’t hear the sound of the doorbell or phone ring.
In most cases, hearing fades gradually so the problem goes unnoticed. During the early stage, a person may find it hard to decipher high-pitched sounds and the sounds of letters S and F. Other symptoms include difficulty in understanding phone conversations, belief that people are not speaking clearly, ringing sounds in the ears, struggle with a conversation wherein more than one person is speaking, inappropriate response due to misunderstanding what a person said, and asking people to repeat themselves.
Treatment of hearing loss depends according to the cause of hearing loss. Those caused by underlying diseases are controlled by treating the specific disease with medication. It’s important to talk to your doctor right away before the condition gets worse.