New Standards to Protect Young Peoples’ Hearing

New Standards to Protect Young Peoples' Hearing

Our world is full of noise, now more than ever before, and it just keeps getting louder. Our city streets are crowded, and traffic and neighborhood noise can invade even our homes and workplaces. Schools and universities are full of chatting students, and hallways are dangerously loud. Technology has also brought noise closer than ever before, and teens and young people are rarely without their phones or personal listening devices, blasting music right into their ears, playing games, or chatting with friends, and are damaging their hearing each and every day.

Hearing Loss Affecting More Young People Than Ever Before

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 1.1 billion young people between the ages of 12 and 35 are damaging their hearing, and aren’t aware of the risks to their hearing health. Up to half of all young people don’t realize that they have unsafe listening practices, or that blasting their music today could cost them their hearing tomorrow. Young people of today risk noise induced hearing loss, and whether at school, on the commute, at the gym, or at home, they have unsafe listening practices that are harming their ears.

New Standards to Protect Young Peoples’ Hearing

The world is starting to take notice of the dangers to hearing health, especially among young people. The WHO and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) have released new standards to protect young peoples’ hearing, and hope that these will be implemented all around the world. Using both education and technology, they hope that young people will start looking after their hearing health, protect their hearing, and develop safe listening habits. The guidelines are available online and the toolkit for safe listening devices and systems provides more information for parents and young people.

Education for Young People

The best way to implement change is through education. Many young people simply don’t understand the risks to their hearing health, and don’t know that what they do today will affect their hearing health for the rest of their lives. Have a conversation with the young people in your life, talk about noise induced hearing loss, and make sure they know that hearing loss will affect their future in profound ways. “Given that we have the technological know-how to prevent hearing loss, it should not be the case that so many young people continue to damage their hearing while listening to music,” said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO’s director-general. “They must understand that once they lose their hearing, it won’t come back. This new WHO-ITU standard will do much to better safeguard these young consumers as they go about doing something they enjoy.”

Using Technology to Prevent Hearing Loss

The WHO hopes that these new standards to protect young peoples’ hearing will have an impact on the technology we use every day. Many young people risk their hearing health using personal listening devices, so the WHO wants to change the technology that we use every day. They’re encouraging manufacturers to provide more programs and features to monitor hearing health and listening practices. A “sound allowance” feature could track how many hours a day people listen, and at what volumes, and notify the user when they’ve reached the maximum safe limit for the day. This would encourage users to be more mindful of their ears, and change their listening habits. Another suggestion is that manufactures develop personalized listening profiles which would give recommendations for safe listening, notify users when they’re not listening safely, and suggest when it’s time to turn down the volume. Parental volume controls are already available on many devices, and this allows parents to monitor their child’s listening habits, and cap the maximum volume at safe volumes to protect their child’s hearing health.

Hearing Consultants

Do you have teens or young people in your life who may not be listening safely? Take the time to have a conversation with them about safe listening practices, and help them develop habits that will protect their hearing health. Then, call us today the Hearing Consultants, where we can provide a  comprehensive hearing test for each member of your family. We’ll help you educate your young people, and protect the hearing of everyone in your family.

Call us today to start your journey to safer listening and clear hearing.

March 3 is World Hearing Day – Celebrate with a Hearing Test!

March 3 is World Hearing Day - Celebrate with a Hearing Test!

 

It may seem like March is a void of holidays. Some people celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, and others take caution on the Ides of March, but most people can’t find much reason to celebrate. Depending where you live, the month may have treacherous weather, and many feel like winter will never end. Although the month can feel like it is dragging on, the World Health Organization has introduced a new holiday into the mix of emotions that many of us experience each March: World Hearing Day.

March 3rd has been set aside to commemorate the need for hearing health, but many people do not understand all that can entail. Sure, most of us know that it is a good idea to wear earplugs in an extremely loud environment, but what else might be affecting our hearing health? The World Health Organization has done an excellent job providing materials regarding the need for hearing health practices, and the following are some of the highlights of the research they have promoted in honor of World Hearing Day.

Hearing Loss, Deafness, and Public Health

With 466 million people suffering from debilitating hearing loss around the world, the World Health Organization has estimated that the number may rise to 900 million by the year 2050. A devastating 34 million of those who currently have hearing loss are children, and people everywhere are seeking solutions to the experience of hearing loss and deafness. A full 60% of childhood hearing loss is due to preventable causes, including diseases that could be eradicated with better health care and eliminating exposure to toxins that cause hearing loss. Birth complications are yet another cause of hearing loss, and improvements to obstetric and maternal health care could make a big difference in the number of children born with hearing loss or total deafness. With such staggering numbers, you may wonder what can be done to reduce or eliminate hearing loss.

Hearing Loss Prevention

Though it may go without saying that wearing ear plugs or noise cancelling ear muffs in very loud environments can prevent hearing loss, there is a lot more that you can do to reduce the risk. Exposure to chemicals and medications that cause hearing loss, also called ototoxic substances, are a serious risk, especially for the sensitive ears of growing children. Infections such as mumps, measles, rubella, meningitis, cytomegalovirus infections, and chronic otitis media are responsible for a large percentage of childhood hearing loss, and many of these conditions are preventable.

Adequate funding is necessary to make sure that children receive the vaccines they need and have access to clinics and treatment centers when these conditions arise. Those who incur hearing loss before or soon after birth can benefit from a number of policy changes that would affect maternal health practices. Cytomegalovirus infections in expectant mothers can cause hearing loss in the child, and these infections can be prevented through good hygiene. Proper screening for and treatment of syphilis and other infections in pregnant women can prevent hearing loss in children, as well. In general, maternal health programs can do wonders for early childhood health, including hearing health.

Getting a Hearing Test

One of the things you can do to take part in World Hearing Day, no matter where you are, is to get a hearing test. Even if you don’t think you have hearing loss, a hearing test will set the baseline for your personal hearing profile, and a hearing healthcare provider will be able to use that knowledge in the future to identify ways that your hearing has changed or been compromised.

In addition, you may have hearing loss that you don’t even know about, and hearing tests are the only way to get precise information about your ability to hear at different volumes and frequencies of sound.

With these many reasons to get a hearing test, why not schedule one today? World Hearing Day on March 3rd is a great opportunity to take care of your hearing health with a very simple, quick, and painless examination. You won’t regret the knowledge you receive from this test, and it may point you toward early solutions for your hearing health! Contact us at Hearing Consultants today to schedule a hearing test and consultation.

 

Understanding Sudden Hearing Loss

Understanding Sudden Hearing Loss

 

Although most people lose their hearing progressively as a natural part of the aging process, other adults have an entirely different experience. Imagine that one day you woke up with noticeable hearing loss. Some people have this experience in both ears, while others have sudden hearing loss in only one ear. Those who have sudden hearing loss in only one ear might not notice until they try to use that ear to use the phone. Still others might hear a sudden popping sound after which they notice that their hearing is seriously compromised. Some have a feeling of dullness, fullness, or ringing in the ear prior to sudden hearing loss, while others simply lose their hearing without warning.

These experiences of sudden hearing loss are varied, and the causes can be equally varied, as well. In order to better understand sudden hearing loss, let’s take a look at the range of possible causes, diagnosis and treatment, as well as the ways you can prevent sudden hearing loss from happening in the first place.

Causes of Sudden Hearing Loss

The causes of sudden hearing loss are as varied as the experiences mentioned above. The most obvious cause of sudden hearing loss is an injury that affects the ears. These injuries may be caused by an accident or other catastrophic event, but the injury can also happen in terms of exposure to injurious sound. Sound in itself is merely a pressure wave pressing itself against the particles of air, so a very loud blast, explosion, or car crash can create such air pressure that it damages the sensitive features of the inner ear.

Other major causes include infections, either viral or bacterial, and autoimmune diseases can cause sudden hearing loss, as well. Certain drugs have been found to cause sudden hearing loss, particularly those used to treat cancer or other severe infections. Neurological disorders, such as multiple sclerosis, can cause sudden hearing loss, as can disorders of the inner ear, such as Ménière’s Disease.

One fascinating place for further research is the link between circulation and cardiovascular health and the possibility of sudden hearing loss. The organs of the middle and inner ear require adequate blood flow to do their work of hearing, and poor circulation can have an effect on the ability to properly hear. Stress may be a cause of this type of cardiovascular disorder, so stress may be indirectly linked to sudden hearing loss, as well.

The main preventative measures to sudden hearing loss are to wear hearing protection in risky situations and maintain good overall health through diet, exercise, and regular checkups with your primary care physician.

Diagnosis of Sudden Hearing Loss

Although there is a wide range of causes of sudden hearing loss, only about 10 percent of cases can be accurately diagnosed. Many cases of sudden hearing loss are mysterious in origin, and audiologists and hearing specialists are tasked with trying to devise a treatment plan. The first step is to observe the ear itself and make sure there is not an obstruction or visible problem in the outer or middle ear. Pure tone audiometry is the proper examination to discover if a person has suffered sudden hearing loss. If that is the case, the patient will have lost at least 30 decibels in three connected frequencies within a 72-hour period. Many report that other people’s voices have suddenly begun to sound like they are whispering. Those patients who have other symptoms may need other tests to determine the cause of sudden hearing loss and to come up with a treatment plan.

Treatment and Prevention of Sudden Hearing Loss

Sudden hearing loss treatment plans depend both on the cause and on the degree of severity. If the cause is unknown, the most common treatment plan is to administer corticosteroids. With the administration of these steroids, it is crucial to get going right away, ideally within two to four months of the beginning of the incident. If you feel that you have experienced sudden hearing loss, contact us at Hearing Consultants.

Depending on the severity of the condition, digital hearing aids may be a possible treatment plan, and more severe cases or total deafness may even require cochlear implants to assist the remaining hearing. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.

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.