Friday, February 17, 2017

Hearing is a problem for Boomers

I use a hearing aid, and I have done so for about three years. My hearing loss, took a long time and it was gradual, so I did not notice that I needed the aid. When I looked at the stats I was surprised. Here is some background information on this problem.

About 31.5 million Americans—one in 10—experience impaired hearing. Hearing loss affects all ages, but specifically, there are more baby boomers aged 45-64 with hearing loss (10 million) than there are people over the age of 65 with hearing loss (9 million). As baby boomers reach mid-age, a time when hearing loss frequently becomes more noticeable, they face concerns about what to do about their hearing loss. Boomers may have more hearing problems at an earlier age than previous generations.

Boomers had a noisy lifestyle, many had prolonged exposure to rock concerts, loud stereos, city traffic, power tools, and lawn mowers and this may take its toll on our ears. My problem was a result of shooting guns when I was younger, according to the Audiologists I saw, she also said that listening to loud stereos and going to concerts did not help.

Hearing care professionals confirm that they are seeing more younger clients seeking help with hearing loss. The National Institute on Deafness and Communication Disorders reports that 20 million Americans are exposed to dangerously noisy environments. Of the 31.5 million Americans with hearing loss, 10 million of these impairments are partially attributable to damage from exposure to loud sounds. Most hearing loss
How does your hearing work?
As sound passes through each ear, it sets off a chain reaction. The outer ear:
1.   Collects pressure (sound) waves and funnels them through to the ear canal. These vibrations strike the eardrum. The eardrum vibrates the delicate bones of the middle ear
2.   That conduct the vibrations into fluid in the inner ear
3.   The vibrations stimulate tiny nerve endings (hair cells) that transform vibrations into electro-chemical impulses. The impulses travel to the brain
4.   Where they are understood as sounds, such as speech, music, or noise.

What are the signs of hearing loss?
While a history of hearing loss in your family or exposure to high noise levels may cause hearing loss, the easiest way to identify hear­ing loss is to notice how your hearing affects your daily life. You are probably the best judge of whether your hearing has declined. You should have your hearing checked if you have experienced more than a couple of these signs of hearing loss.
·       Tired or stressed from trying to hear
·       Believe that everybody mumbles
·       Find it easier to understand others when you are looking directly at their faces
·       Frequently ask others to repeat themselves
·       Increase television or radio volume to a point that others complain
·       Have difficulty understanding speech in noisy places like cars, restaurants and theaters.
·       Fail to understand doctor’s instructions about medications
·       Make inappropriate responses because you didn’t understand the question
·       Miss essential sounds like doorbells, alarm clocks, smoke alarms
·       Have trouble hearing on the telephone
·       Turn one ear towards a speaker to hear better

I know I used excuses such as “people aren’t speaking as clearly as they used to, or  I can hear just fine, if only you would speak louder”. Excuses don’t cut it, having a hearing loss is detrimental to your health and to your cognitive ability. 

My audiologist told me at one point, that I was compensating for my hearing loss, with my brain filling in the words, I was not hearing. She explained to me, that over time, this ability to fill in the blanks would go away and I would never get it back. I would lose cognitive function. I don’t know if that was true, but about a year later I did get my hearing aids, and I immediately noticed an improvement in my social interactions. 

No comments:

Post a Comment