Preventing hearing lossBy Veita Bland, M.D. / April 27, 2017
Share this article:You are sitting down talking to a friend or a family member and they are constantly asking you to repeat what you just said. Not only is it aggravating to you and the person with the hearing problem, it stops the easy flow of communicating.
Dr. Jennifer Derebery of the House Ear Clinic and Institute and the University of California Los Angeles David Geffen School of Medicine says “Untreated hearing loss is associated with increased stress, depression, and social withdrawal, and may exacerbate problems for those with cognitive changes such as dementia.”
Hearing loss can change the quality of your life. The real question lies in how can we protect people and help them maintain their hearing? Studies have shown that many people are routinely exposed to dangerously loud noises in their work and play. The problem comes when as this study notes, observing that most of these people do not wear protective hearing gear such as ear plugs to protect their hearing. The study showed that 49 million adults work in very noisy conditions and more than one-third of them never use hearing protection. The study further pointed out that as far as leisure activities were concerned, guns posed a particular risk. It was noted in the study that there are 35 million gun users in this country. Only 59 percent of them wear hearing protection all the time.
“The problem here is both the number of people using firearms and the potential noise-inducing hearing loss from the repeated gunfire. A rifle has an extremely loud single burst of sound and if you are firing hundreds of rounds, that can be very damaging, particularly without hearing protection,” stated Dr. Neil Bhattacharyya of Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston who is the senior study author.
Of interest was the fact that lawn mowers were the most common source of non-work related noise exposure. How many of those who cut their lawns weekly wear hearing protection? Of greater concern are the many kids who cut the lawn as a household chore. Are they protecting their hearing?
For many there is the question if the noise around them is loud enough to damage their ears. I would certainly error on the side of caution but as usual there is an app for that. Down load a sound meter app for your phone. Use it and if it registers that the noise is too loud use ear plugs or other protection.
It is of note that there are a vast number of different hearing protectors. They range from the humble yet effective ear plugs to the ultra-sophisticated electronic ear muffs. These allow quiet sounds such as speech and sounds a hunter might want to hear while walking in the forest to be heard but they can also be amplified if needed.
Hearing loss from loud noises can be alleviated by using hearing protection routinely at work and play.
Dr. Veita Bland is a board certified Greensboro physician and hypertension specialist. Dr. Bland’s radio show, “It’s a Matter of Your Health,” can be heard live on Wednesdays, 5:30 p.m. on North Carolina A&T State University’s WNAA, 90.1 FM. Listeners may call in and ask questions. The show is replayed on Sirius 142 at 5 p.m. on Wednesdays. Email Dr. Bland at firstname.lastname@example.org.