“What did you say?” Protect your hearing because hearing loss is irreversible

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You’re good at staying on top of your health with annual appointments with your primary care provider, dentist, and optometrist. But how is your hearing health?

“Hearing health is easy to take for granted, and people typically seek help when it’s too late and hearing loss has already occurred,” said Kendra Baily, AuD, CCC-A, audiologist at Avera Medical Group Ear, Nose & Throat in Yankton, SOUTH DAKOTA.

Prolonged loud noises, normal aging, head injuries, and even certain chemotherapy drugs are just a few of the reasons you could lose your hearing. Once you lose your hearing ability, you cannot get it back.

Causes of hearing loss

In the inner ear, tiny hair-like structures are located in the cochlea. Sound vibrations move these hair cells back and forth, turning the vibrations into nerve messages that our brain receives and interprets.

Hearing loss occurs when hair cells are damaged by too much movement caused by too much noise. Compromised areas cause the brain to misinterpret sounds, such as consonants and vowels, making it difficult to understand what is being said.

How to Prevent Hearing Loss

You begin to lose your hearing after prolonged noise levels exceed 85 decibels.

“A very busy intersection, like 41st Street and Louise Avenue in Sioux Falls, is around 85 decibels,” Baily said. “You can stand for about eight hours before your hearing is damaged.”

Take inventory of the loud noises you encounter. Vacuuming or drying your hair to safe volume levels and you won’t do these tasks for long (unless you’re doing them professionally; blow-drying can be damaging after two hours straight). However, mowing the lawn for more than 30 minutes or the blast of a single gunshot without hearing protection can cause damage.

Children and teens can regularly play their music too loudly in their headphones and damage their hearing – early in life.

Take steps to prevent hearing loss:

  • Invest in hearing protection (ear muffs or foam plugs) when working around continuous loud noises like machinery, power tools, or lawn equipment
  • Lower the volume of your headphones by half and warn children about the dangers of listening to music at too high a volume
  • Get hearing protection for kids to use at big events
  • Don’t sit behind speakers when attending concerts

“We always say the three steps to prevention are turn down the volume, get away from the noise, and wear hearing protection,” Baily said.

Signs of hearing loss

Schedule a hearing test with an audiologist if you:

  • Having ringing in the ears (called tinnitus)
  • Increase TV or radio volume over time
  • Have difficulty understanding people
  • Ask people to repeat themselves over and over again
  • Find your hearing competing with background noise during conversations

Local health fairs may also offer hearing screenings. It is worth contacting your clinic to find out about upcoming opportunities.

How to Treat Hearing Loss

Hearing aids tend to be the most common way to treat hearing loss as they are fully digital and programmable to suit the person’s needs. Modern hearing aids have many advancements, including smartphone capability and rechargeable batteries.

In some cases, the hearing loss may worsen and the hearing aids are no longer effective. In these cases, the individual might be a candidate for cochlear implants.

A cochlear implant works differently from a hearing aid. A hearing aid always sends sound through a damaged ear and tries to compensate for the damaged area. On the other hand, a cochlear implant takes the place of the damaged area of ​​the ear thanks to an electrode which directly stimulates the brain.

“If you have hearing difficulties or want to explore your potential for hearing and communication improvement, most insurance will cover diagnostic hearing tests,” Baily said. “The last question is, what are you waiting for? Don’t miss another important moment!

Ask your insurance about coverage for hearing screenings and treatments. Depending on your insurance, you may need a referral from your primary care provider. Find a local supplier and book an appointment today.

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