Leading causes of hearing loss & Hearing conservation
Excessive noise exposure
Presbycusis - the aging process
Tumors and other space occupying lesions
Vascular and circulatory disorders
Middle Ear Problems - before the age of six 90% of all children in the U.S. will suffer from otitis media (middle ear infection)
Congenital - craniofacial anomalies, family history of hearing loss, congenital infections
Other - bacterial meningitis, head trauma, ototoxic medications, and childhood infectious diseases (mumps, measles)
NOISE AND HEARING
28 Million people in the United States are affected by hearing loss in one or both ears. With the incidence of noise induced hearing loss occurring at younger and younger ages, it is important to understand how a noise induced hearing loss occurs, and what you can do to prevent it.
HOW DOES THE DAMAGE OCCUR?
Sound is converted from an airborne vibration to wavelike fluid motion in the middle ear. The motion of the fluid in the cochlea stimulates the hair cells that send electrical impulses to the brain. It may be helpful to think of the hair cells in the inner ear as reeds in a pond. On a calm day with the wind blowing lightly the reeds sway back and forth in the breeze. On a stormy day the wind blows so hard that the reeds in the position are forced down flat. Depending on the length or severity of the storm, a number of these reeds will gradually return to their normal position, but others will have been broken and will not recover. Repeated exposure to loud noise fatigues the hair cells in the inner ear. Just like the reed, some of these hair cells will return to the normal position, but others will have been damaged beyond the point of recovery. The destruction of these hair cells is evidenced by permanent hearing loss.
ARE YOU AT RISK?
Noise induced hearing loss typically occurs gradually and without pain. Often by the time a person realizes that there may be a problem, it is too late. But there are early warning signs. If you experience any of the following symptoms, have your hearing tested by a Hearing Instrument Specialist:
A ringing or buzzing (tinnitus) in the ear immediately after noise exposure to noise.
A slight muffling of sounds after exposure, making it difficult to understand people after you leave a noisy area.
Difficulty understanding speech; that is, you can hear all the words, but you can't understand all of them
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
Be aware of the warning signs for hearing loss. If you have control of the volume, turn it down; if you aren't wearing hearing protection, start. There are many options available today to meet specific needs and uses for hearing protection. Twenty years ago no one wore bicycle helmets, now it's rare when you see someone riding without one. Concrete hasn't gotten harder in the last two decades, people have become much more educated about the risks involved and the dangers they face should they be involved and the dangers they face should they be involved in an accident. It's a noisy world out there. With the information and resources available today, positive steps can be taken to reduce the occurrence of noise induced hearing loss.