Hearing Health Comes to Light in October

187120627How often do you hear someone joke, “Oh, I don’t have a hearing problem. It’s just selective hearing?”  What these people may not know is that they may be experiencing symptoms of hearing loss.  Signs and symptoms of hearing loss can go unsuspected for years before it is officially identified.  Too often, people wrestle with these challenges for years because they fail to receive proper, timely treatment. In fact, it takes the average individual seven to 10 years before they actually have their hearing examined by a professional.  Early detection of hearing issues is absolutely critical to improving academic, social and career outcomes — and improving one’s quality of life at any age.

Recent research suggests at least one in every five Americans possess some degree of hearing loss.  This translates to more than 34 million individuals experiencing some level of communication breakdown.

Prevent Hearing Loss

Hearing loss is not just an ailment of old age either! The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently estimated that around 5.2 million children ages 6-19 years exhibit hearing loss directly related to noise exposure.  Fortunately, noise-induced hearing loss is 100 percent preventable. Loud music, band instruments, noisy toys, firearms, farm equipment and even fireworks can cause damage to our ears. Three simple precautions can be taken to protect yourself and others from harmful noise levels.

• Turn down the volume.

• Walk away from the loud noise or limit your time in dangerously loud environments.

• Protect your ears by using earmuffs or disposable earplugs.

At Avera Medical Group Ear, Nose and Throat Yankton, we encourage everyone to learn how to recognize dangerous noise levels that could impact hearing.  In addition, we also recommend our patients have their hearing evaluated annually.  Whether it is a visit to your local audiologist or a local community health fair, being proactive about hearing health and having your hearing screened could help preserve quality of life and communication for years to come. For children and teenagers, early identification of hearing loss could promote improved social interactions and academic performance.

No matter what your age, communication is the cornerstone to fulfilling our everyday life, as we are constantly connecting with friends and family.  A breakdown in communication, specifically hearing loss, can interfere with relationships, causing depression, anxiety, withdrawal and lower self-esteem. Don’t let your hearing impact your relationships.  There’s no better time than now to take control of your hearing health during National Audiology Awareness and National Protect Your Hearing Month.

Read CDC tips on hearing loss prevention.

By Dr. Kendra Neugebauer

Audiologist at Avera Sacred Heart Hospital