About Hearing Loss

Hearing loss is one of the world's most common health issues

From the moment we wake up to the time we go to sleep, sound plays an important role in our lives. Whether it's alerting us to danger, delivering needed information, or making us simply laugh, smile or cry, sound informs, entertains and connects us to the world.

Consequently, when we experience hearing problems and begin to lose this vital sense — and eventually, most of us do — we also begin to lose those connections and diminish our ability to be engaged, entertained and informed. It's not uncommon to hear people who suffer from hearing impairment say it impacts their "quality of life."

The sooner we seek treatment for hearing problems, the more successful we'll be at slowing the negative social, psychological, cognitive and health effects that come with it.

The effects of hearing loss are more than physical

While your hearing loss may seem insignificant now — something you can deal with by simply turning the TV louder or asking friends to repeat themselves — it impacts more than you think.

Hearing loss can have a negative impact on your ability to learn, socialize and enjoy life.
Untreated patients are more likely to miss important information in meetings and phone calls, and make mistakes at work.
Hearing problems can lead to avoidance or withdrawal from social situations, social rejection and loneliness.
Friends often avoid talking to people with hearing loss because of the difficulty communicating.
People with uncorrected hearing impairment earn less than people who hear normally.

To make matters worse, studies have shown that the effects of hearing loss are cumulative. Just as muscles grow weak from lack of use, the brain loses its ability to process sounds and recognize speech without regular auditory stimulation. By the time you finally acknowledge your hearing loss is real, you may have already lost the full appreciation of sounds and music you once enjoyed.

Take care of your hearing

Your ears are delicate organs. By taking a few simple steps to protect them, you may be able to prevent hearing loss caused by excessive noise or foreign objects.

To protect yourself from noise:
Pay attention to noise in your workplace. If the sound level exceeds 85 dB SPL, reduce the noise level or wear ear protectors.
Lower the volume of your television, stereo and iPod. Take special care if you use headphones or earbuds.
Be careful not to turn up your car stereo volume too loudly to compensate for noise from the engine or the wind.
Wear custom noise filters or solid earplugs if you go to rock concerts or nightclubs. Take a break so your ears can rest, and don't stand near loudspeakers.
Wear headphones or solid earplugs for outstanding noise protection if you use noisy equipment such as drills, lawnmowers, etc.

To avoid damage from foreign objects:
Don't use cotton wool to protect your ears. Doing so may push wax down onto your eardrum and can increase the production of wax and/or damage the eardrum.
Don't put fingers, cotton swabs or towels in your ears. These can also push wax down onto your eardrum and damage your skin.
Avoid washing with unclean water to prevent ear infections.

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