October is National Audiology Awareness Month, and the state Commission on the Deaf and Hard of Hearing is urging the public to be aware of the importance of good hearing health and checkups.
The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders says approximately 28.8 million Americans could benefit from the use of hearing aids. Age is a bug factor, but there are growing numbers of younger people reporting hearing difficulties, the commission says.
Gov. Andy Beshear said in a news release, “As a parent, I know how important it is to pay attention to the hearing health of your children and teens. Noise-induced hearing loss is preventable with proper protection and awareness about the dangers of loud sounds. If you suspect your child is experiencing a hearing loss, go see an audiologist.”
A study says untreated hearing loss during midlife is one of 12 risk factors for dementia, which typically begins many years before it is recognized. There is also a link between untreated hearing loss and falls.
One way to keep your hearing healthy is to be aware of the degree and amount of exposure to loud noises, which can damage the inner ear. Such damage is permanent, so people who can’t avoid loud sounds should wear hearing protection, the commission says: “An audiologist can help you identify the right hearing protection for you including custom hearing protection that can provide a comfortable fit and good sound quality.”
How loud is too loud? The American Academy of Audiology says lengthy or repeated exposure to noise above 85 decibels can damage hearing. “An amplified music concert and an MP3 player with the volume turned all the way up can be as high (or higher) as 120 decibels,” the release says. “Movie action scenes in the theater have been known to reach 100 decibels. Outdoor sounds can pose a risk too. Lawn mowers are around 85 decibels and chain saws can be 115-120 decibels.”
The commission uses an “EARS” meme to help people remember the four main ways to protect your hearing:
Avoid loud sounds
Reduce the level of sounds
Shorten time in loud environments
“Anyone suspecting that his or her hearing has diminished should see an audiologist and get tested as soon as possible,” said Virginia Moore, executive director of the commission.