Do you know about 800 million people around the world are affected by hearing loss and it has been estimated, that this number will rise to 1.1 billion by 2015. This means about 16% of the world’s population will be suffering from the consequences of hearing loss. Today hearing loss has become a major public health issue that is the third most common physical condition after arthritis and heart disease. In America one in every ten people has hearing loss, making it the most common sensory disorder. It is obvious that we will lose a percentage of our hearing sooner or later. As we age our hearing ability worsens and our ears lose the capability to hear high frequency noises. It starts from the age of 30s or 40s and onwards. When we reach at the age of 80s, our ears loose more than half of the hearing ability. Though, hearing loss is a natural consequence of getting older, but despite of this fact hearing loss is affecting the people of all ages from young adults to old generations. Hearing loss can be categorized in three main categories: Conductive, Sensorineural and Mixed hearing loss. All these three result by the blockage of sound in the ear or by damage in the outer or middle ear and in the inner ear or auditory nerve.
Degree of Hearing Loss:
Depending upon the hearing difficulty and which part of the auditory system is damaged, it can range from certain sounds to complete deafness. Generally the degree of Hearing ranges from Normal to Profound.
- Normal : -10 – +15 db HL
- Minimal : 16 – 25 db HL
- Mild : 26 – 40 db HL
- Moderate : 41 – 55 db HL
- Moderate to Severe : 56 – 70 db HL
- Severe : 71 – 90
- Profound : 91 db HL and greater
Symptoms of Hearing Loss:
If you are suffering from hearing loss you have definitely found yourself experiencing difficulty with hearing and have felt annoyed time to time. Though, you pretend you can hear, but the actuality is far away for the truth. You jiggle your head, show interest in conversations, and laugh with the friend circle even though you did not get the jokes. When you leave the conversation with a troubling headache and disappointment, you begin to feel left out. You don’t want to release the actuality, but these are the common signs that show you have some degree of hearing loss. Below are some common symptoms of hearing loss you may experience.
- You try to hear, but not understand the conversation being held.
- Sometimes you turn up the volume on the TV or radio.
- You may have difficulty following conversations when two or more people are talking.
- Having difficulty in hearing fellow workers over machinery noises.
- Since you can’t hear so you must lip read to understand speech.
- Having difficulty in hearing environmental sounds such as game calls, traps releasing, crickets, etc.
- You may start to feel social withdrawal due to not understanding conversations.
- Experiencing exhaustion and stress due to denial of hearing impairment.
What causes Hearing loss in people?
Have you ever though what can be the main cause of your hearing loss? Obviously the most probable answer of majority of people will be “NO”. It is essential to figure out the main cause of your hearing loss. Hearing loss can either be inherited from parents or acquired from illness, ear-damage, drugs, exposure to loud noise, tumors, head injury, or the aging process. Main causes of hearing loss include:
- Exposure to excess noise
- Family history
- Impacted ear wax
- Fluid in the middle ear
- Ear infections
- Exposure to drugs or other toxic substances
What are the acceptable environmental sound levels for a normal person?
The acceptable environmental sound level for a normal person is up to 140 db. When this level crosses the threshold, it can cause permanent hearing loss in both ears.
- 30 -40 db (Whisper, Average residence)
- 40 – 50 db (Quite Conversation)
- 50 – 60 db (Soft Background Music)
- 60 – 70 db (Ordinary Conversation)
- 70 – 80 db (Heavy Traffic)
- 80 – 90 db (Concert hall Seat)
- 90 – 100 db (Rock and Loud Music)
- 100 – 110 db (wood working shop)
- 110 – 130 db (Jet Aircraft)
- 140 and above db (Harmful for ears)
What are the social and mental affects of hearing loss?
Hearing loss can gradually affect a person’s life by developing the feelings of anger, frustration, and embarrassment. Many adults may be depressed because of how hearing loss is affecting their social life. Social situations become more tiring and stressful for hard of hearing people. They begin to avoid conversations and social interactions as hearing becomes more difficult for them. People with severe to profound hearing losses often report feeling isolated, without friends, and unhappy in their social life.
How Hearing Loss affects a child’s development?
Hearing Loss is a number one birth defect that is affecting the children worldwide. If hearing loss occurs at earlier stages in a child’s life, it can influence more serious impacts on child’s development. Hearing is crucial for child’s growth as it is critical to speech and language development, communication, and learning. The language insufficiency causes learning problems that result in reduced academic achievement. It also causes delay in the development of receptive and expressive communication skills.
Hearing Loss -> Reduced Speech perception -> Speech Delay -> Reduced academic achievement -> Lower self-estimate – > Isolation
Hearing Loss facts you need to know
The below statics are not to scare you, but these facts are enough to give you awareness about hearing loss.
- Hearing and Communication center reports that exposure to loud noise for just 15 minutes a day can cause permanent damage to hearing over time.
- National Institutes of Health state that approximately 12 percent of the U.S. population or 38 million Americans have significant hearing loss.
- It has been estimated that 30-40 percent of people over 65 have some type of hearing loss. 14 percent of people between the ages of 45-64 also have some type of hearing loss.
- According to National Council on Aging 15 percent of children between the ages of 6-19 have measurable hearing loss in at least one ear.
- In recent studies it has been found that hearing loss occurs in 5 out of every 1,000 newborns, and over 90 percent of deaf children are born to hearing parents.
Can it be prevented?
The answer is “YES”. Of course hearing loss can be prevented. Though, you can’t cure the hearing loss dilemma permanently, but you can use various precautions to reduce the effects of hearing loss. Limiting the exposure to loud sounds and avoiding excessive noise can be some great contributing factors towards limiting hearing loss. You can reduce hearing loss by turning down the ambient noise level in your life. Buying appliances and devices that have low noise ratings can minimize the threat. Always wear ear protection while working on heavy industrial machinery. Along with this, eating a healthy diet, maintaining proper weight and daily exercise can help you avoid hearing loss.
If you think you may have hearing loss, you should consult to your nearby hearing health specialist or you can apply for an online hearing test. This easy online hearing screening will help you check for hearing problems. It is also intended to give you an idea of what some parts of a hearing evaluation might be like. With online hearing test you will get reliable solution by a hearing professional like an audiologist, hearing aid specialist or ENT doctor.