Huey Lewis Cancels 2018 Shows due to Hearing Loss

Huey Lewis Cancels 2018 Shows due to Hearing Loss

Have you heard the news about Huey Lewis? One of America’s most beloved musicians has cancelled his upcoming performances due to hearing loss. Lewis, who introduced the idea that it’s “Hip to Be Square” all the way back in 1986 falls into a demographic of aging Americans confronting hearing loss in record numbers. At age 67, the rock star is one of millions of Baby Boomers now finding themselves faced with the question of how to treat and intervene in hearing loss.

Hearing loss and age

Age is one of the great predictors of hearing loss. One third of Americans over the age of 65 report some degree of hearing loss. That number jumps considerably once we reach 75, with half of folks in that demographic suffering from hearing loss. It’s not an accident, just like the rest of the systems of the human body, our hearing structures deteriorate over time.

Despite being one of the major public health issues in the country, we haven’t culturally caught up with the protection and maintenance yet. We’re urged to drink milk from a young age to build healthy bones to last us into our old age. We’re also now conditioned to integrate exercise into our daily routines in order to preserve our cardiovascular systems and maintain healthy joints. But rarely are we reminded to avoid too-noisy situations or use hearing protection in order to protect our hearing.

Meniere’s disease

Lewis himself reports that his doctors believe he may be suffering from Meniere’s disease, the symptoms of which include vertigo, hearing loss and a sensation of fullness in the affected ear. These come on in the form of ‘episodes’ typically lasting from 20 minutes to four hours. Unfortunately, the disease progressively transmutates these brief periods of hearing loss into permanent hearing loss. The cause of this disease is unknown, but it likely results from inner ear fluid abnormalities. There is no cure, though the symptoms can be treated.

Professional musicians and hearing loss

However, perhaps what is most surprising is that more of our beloved musicians and rock bands don’t report hearing loss as they age. It’s quite a common profession in which noise induced hearing loss occurs. In fact, professional musicians are almost four times more likely to develop noise induced hearing loss than the general public.

Noise induced hearing loss

Noise induced hearing loss is a permanent hearing impairment that comes from prolonged exposure to high levels of noise, damaging the delicate cells of the inner ear. In the case of musicians specifically, noise induced hearing loss occurs because they are in too-loud environments for substantial amounts of time, say for the average duration of a concert multiplied by the length of your career. Rock concerts can register between 100-120 decibels when any sound over 85 decibels is considered potentially harmful.

Protecting your ears at concerts

You don’t have to be a professional musician to damage your hearing at a concert, performance or any loud event. It can happen to anyone, and the risk is particularly high now as our culture seems to just get louder every day.

Pay attention to how your ears feel in a noisy environment. If there is any pain or discomfort, seek relief by giving your ears a break. Invest in a pair of earplugs to keep in the car or on hand for those times you have to be in a loud listening scenario. Don’t worry about looking cool at the expense of your ears. Remember, it’s hip to be square!

Check in on your own hearing

Years spent enjoying concerts without paying attention to the damage that too-loud noises can do over time may have impacted your own hearing. Shouldering your way to the best spot in the audience usually meant close to the speakers near the stage. However, you don’t have to be stuck with poor hearing.

Instead, schedule a visit with us at Hearing Consultants to review the current condition of your hearing and diagnose any established hearing loss. From there, we can begin the conversation to review next steps in hearing loss treatment and intervention. Hearing aids can inject an ease into communication that allows you to live your fullest and most vibrant life.

 

Invest in Better Headphones to Help Prevent Hearing Loss

Invest in Better Headphones to Help Prevent Hearing Loss

 

Hearing loss isn’t just something that affects the aging. The way that our culture has so quickly adapted to personal technology devices and the dependence upon headphones or earbuds has greatly impacted the way hearing loss is appearing in much younger people.

Noise induced hearing loss

The classification of noise induced hearing loss is when too loud sounds irrevocably damage the delicate cells of the inner ear. These cells function as the receivers of sound information and once damage occurs, healthy hearing begins to decline.

Its presentation can be slow and subtle, with the loss first of frequencies rather than an overall lowering or eradicating of volume. This is, of course, the case with noise induced hearing loss that occurs because of too loud noise environments and prolonged exposure over a long period of time. Some instances of of noise induced hearing loss can occur quite suddenly, such as a loud explosion or crash, in which hearing faculties are irreversible and considerably damaged in an instant.

No regulation in sight

Before, we might have warned folks working in certain industries about the way their jobs might result in eventual noise induced hearing loss if proper precautions weren’t taken. The loudest fields remain agriculture, military, construction and manufacturing. Because of the very real danger of potential hearing loss, those industries were heavily regulated to protect the hearing health of workers. The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) imposes strict limits on the types of sound workers can be exposed to and the duration of time that exposure can last.

Today, though, no one is regulating the noise exposure produced by the constant use of cell phones and personal devices.

The real danger of heavy listening

In 2015, the World Health Organization (WHO) issued a global warning on unsafe use of personal audio devices, stating that more than a billion teenagers and young adults were at risk of hearing loss. They classified unsafe exposure to be noise in excess of 85 decibels for eight hours or 100 decibels for 15 minutes. To put things into perspective, a rock concert typically measures around 100 to 120 decibels. Real hearing damage can be done in about two minutes with exposure to sound measuring 110 decibels, so it’s nothing to take lightly. iPhones in Europe have a maximum volume of around 100 decibels, which is only slightly higher in the United States, at around 100 to 115 decibels.

Headphones to the rescue?

So why would the very thing that is causing so much damage end up being the solution to unnecessary early hearing loss? Well, how we listen is as important as our listening behavior. With a pair of standard headphones, which freely allow outside noise to disrupt the listening experience, you’re tempted to crank up the volume on your phone call or music streaming session. This can result in damaging volumes. However, noise canceling headphones tune out that background noise so that your device’s volume can remain lower and still retain a quality listening experience. In essence, you hear what you want to hear and tune out the rest.

A really good pair of noise canceling headphones is an investment that can set you back between $50 and up to a few hundred dollars, depending on the quality of the product you choose. However, it’s really an investment in your listening experience and your long term hearing health. In fact, the 2015 WHO report specifically suggested noise canceling headphones as one of three ways to protect your ears.

Other ways to protect your ears

In addition to noise canceling headphones, you can take other precautions to protect healthy hearing function. For starters, begin to notice the volumes on your devices. Try taking it down to the lowest setting that still allows you to hear clearly. Note where the volume level is and try to maintain it, despite an urge to raise it if your environment becomes noisier or if you just really love that song.

Take listening breaks from your personal devices throughout the day. It’s easy to just stay plugged in, but every four hours or so give your ears twenty minutes to remember the sound of silence.

Visit Us at Hearing Consultants

Are you concerned about your hearing abilities? Our team at Hearing Consultants provides comprehensive hearing services, including hearing testing and hearing aid fittings. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.

This Fourth of July, Protect Your Family’s Hearing

This Fourth of July, Protect Your Family’s Hearing

 

It’s almost time to celebrate the red, white and blue! The Fourth of July is a wonderful time for us in the United States. It’s a time for us to honor those who gave their lives for the freedom and independence we enjoy today. July fourth is also an opportunity for us to gather with friends and family to enjoy pool time, sunshine, barbeque, and of course, awesome fireworks.

The festive, fun, and patriotic celebration of Independence Day also brings with it a real danger – one most of us likely have not considered. This danger is noise induced hearing loss, and those wonderful fireworks we look forward to each year may be to blame. Before the celebration this year, it is important to take some time to consider how you can protect your family’s hearing to enjoy a safe and healthy holiday.

How can fireworks cause hearing loss?

Excess exposure to any noise, regardless of its source, has the potential to cause hearing loss. This type of impairment is called Noise Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL) and can affect anyone at any age. In fact, it is estimated that about one in four young adults aged 20-69 do have an identifiable hearing loss and this number is only set to grow. Rates of noise induced hearing loss have been on the rise for quite some time, with an estimated 1.1 billion youth between the ages of 12-35 being at risk for developing a noise induced hearing impairment caused by recreational activities (http://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/deafness-and-hearing-loss). Once acquired, noise induced hearing loss is rarely temporary and cannot be reinstated or cured. Once your hearing has been damaged by noise and is gone, its gone. This is why it is so important to remain educated about common dangers to your hearing, and how you can protect it.

Are fireworks really that loud?

Yes. Surprisingly enough, fireworks really are loud enough to cause damage to hearing, especially fireworks purchased for home use. When fired nearby, fireworks can ring in at a deafening 150-175 decibels – which is loud enough to cause instant hearing damage (https://www.boystownhospital.org/knowledgeCenter/articles/hearing/Pages/Fireworks.aspx). As perspective, an ambulance siren driving past rings in at only 120 decibels – quite a bit quieter than nearby fireworks. Fireworks are not only a sight for sore eyes, but can also be a sound to cause sore ears, too!

How do I protect my family’s hearing?

Just because fireworks have the potential to damage hearing, doesn’t mean you and your loved ones can’t participate in all the fun. There are some very easy and inexpensive steps you can take to ensure your family enjoys the festivities and protects their hearing.

 

Make plans for hearing protection.

There are many options when it comes to protecting your hearing. The best and most effective choice is custom-made earplugs designed for the purpose, however, these are not readily available to everyone. Disposable earplugs can also be effective. Disposable earplugs should have a clearly marked Noise Reduction Rating (NRR), which will indicate how many decibels of sound are blocked by the plugs. It may be smart to purchase your family’s earplugs in advance to allow everyone an opportunity to test them for comfort. Smaller children’s earplugs can improve comfort for the littlest ears amongst us. Pack enough earplugs for the whole family (not just the kids!) and be sure to include a few extras.

 

Take location into consideration.

The further you are from where the fireworks are launched, the lower the noise level will be. Finding a spot that is a little bit away from the heart of the action can help to protect your family’s hearing. Being “away from it all” may also be a breath of fresh air, allowing you the room and peace to really enjoy the time with your loved ones.

 

Make adjustments as needed.

Even with hearing protection and location in mind, it is important to still be cognizant of how the sounds are affecting you and your family. If at any time you notice yourself or one of your family members covering their ears, or expressing ear pain or buzzing or ringing in the ears, it’s a sign the environment is too loud. It may be time to find a spot even more set apart or maybe even enjoy the view from indoors.

Chances are, your family won’t lose their hearing over one night of fireworks, though it is important to teach healthy hearing habits as early as possible. From our family to yours, we truly wish you a very happy, safe, fun and healthy Independence Day this year!