Hearing Loss on the Rise in Young Adults
Celebrating 35 years of Caring for Your Hearing
|Meredy Hase tests a child, 1987||Kupperman and Hase work to license audiologists in Wisconsin, 1989|
Hearing Loss UNDER Age 65
We used to think of hearing loss as something that only happened to our grandparents' generation. But you'd be surprised at how many people your age, and even younger, have a hearing problem.
According to a study recently published by the Better Hearing Institute, two-thirds of Americans with hearing loss are under the age of 65 and still in the work force. That includes one of every six "Baby Boomers" (ages 41 to 59) and one of every 14 "Generation X'ers" (age 29-40).
According to Meredy Hase, Doctor of Audiology, "Hearing loss is by no means an 'old person's disease' any longer. Each day, we see people of all ages come into our offices concerned they may have a hearing problem.
"There's even solid evidence to support the fact that for working Americans, hearing loss impacts their ability to make a living, up to $12,000 in lost income per year." (See related article)
Dr. Hase urges anyone who thinks they, or a loved one, may have a hearing loss to contact The Doctors of Audiology at Hearing Services without delay.
Auditory Deprivation refers to the fact that even though we "hear" with our ears, it's our brain that's the true organ of hearing.
When hearing loss is left untreated, the brain's ability to distinguish various sounds becomes less and less. Try to think of Auditory Deprivation as similar, in a sense, to muscles that atrophy when not used over a long period of time.
The reason Auditory Deprivation is important is that we have ample evidence proving how long people will wait before seeking help for a suspected hearing loss. Up to ten years, by some estimates.
In other words, the longer you wait to get help for your hearing loss, the less even the most advanced hearing instruments will be able to help you hear better. That's one more reason physicians recommend annual hearing checks as part of an overall health assessment.
The Doctors of Audiology at Hearing Services can perform hearing screenings that take only a few minutes. Concerned individuals are urged to contact them at the first signs of hearing loss, such as an inability to understand conversations in a crowded room or having to turn up the TV volume in order to hear.
Hearing & Income Loss
After years of research, there is new evidence that links hearing loss and loss of income. A study released by the Better Hearing Institute in Alexandria, VA, proves that untreated hearing loss may impact household income by as much as $12,000 per year.
The study also shows that hearing loss, which affects more than 28 million Americans, two thirds of whom are still in the work force, results in an annual loss of more than $100 billion in wages and worker productivity. The good news is people who find help for their hearing loss can regain up to 50% of that lost income.
According to Meredy Hase, Doctor of Audiology, "One of the misconceptions about hearing loss is that it's 'an old person's ailment'. But we know that hearing loss crosses all income lines and impacts people of all ages".
The new "Open Ear" Digital hearing instruments are especially designed to help Baby Boomers feel more comfortable about wearing hearing instruments.
Anyone interested in receiving a FREE Demonstration of Open Fit hearing technology are urged to contact the Doctors of Audiology at Hearing Services.
Hearing Loss & the Family
For years, both researchers and hearing healthcare professionals have known much about the causes of hearing loss and how it affects the person who suffers from it.
But not until recently has attention been paid as to the devastating effects hearing loss has on family members and friends as well. This past year alone, several organizations have weighed in with their findings on this often overlooked medical problem that by current estimates, affects the lives and families of more than 30 million Americans.
For example, the National Council on Aging (NCOA), a government agency whose task it is to research the lives of older Americans, released a study that confirms how often a person with hearing loss begins to feel isolated, eventually withdrawing from normal everyday activities and even from family and friends.
None of this is news, however, to Dr. Meredy Hase, who says, "I realized just how much hearing loss also affected family members when we''d spend so much time counseling them when we''d fit their loved one with hearing instruments".
The benefits of better hearing were the subject of an NBC report that aired on an installment of the NBC Nightly News. In that report, the testimonials of several patients and their families provided evidence of how lives can be changed for the good, once the decision has been made to seek help for a hearing problem.
Those interviewed talked about how experiences such as watching TV or enjoying conversations with loved ones - things that were not possible with hearing loss - were once again part of the everyday enjoyment of life. Social activities like dining at restaurants of going to the movies were also among the range of family life experienced through better hearing.
Thanks to recent advances in technology more help is available than ever before for those whose lives are affected by hearing loss. If left untreated, hearing loss will almost always become worse over time, another reason Dr. Hase urges people to contact the Doctors of Audiology at Hearing Services if a hearing loss is thought to exist.
More Hearing Healthcare News
There’s no denying the importance of hearing; it’s one of our five senses. It connects us to friends and family. It allows us to learn, listen, and love others.
But it’s something that, for many, is in danger.
For a long time, experts have focused on the hearing loss of older people.
“For people over 65, I think its about five out of 10 that will have hearing loss. By the time we get to 80, about 8 out of 10 will have hearing loss,” Hearing Instrument Specialist Todd Beyer said.
And while the numbers are startling, experts are now shifting their focus to a different generation at risk.
The younger generation
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates around 17 percent of 12 to 19-year-olds show evidence of noise-induced hearing loss in one or both ears.
A big reason for those numbers is due to technology.
“One of the big concerns is with younger people and their ear buds. Because they put that ear bud right down tight in their ear and it holds the sound pressure in the ear canal, it will tend to do more damage,” Beyer said.
Beyer recommends never listening to your music above half volume. He also says if you can hear the music of the person sitting next to you, it’s being played too loud.
Hearing loss with jobs
Depending on your job or hobby, you may be at more risk for hearing loss as well.
Beyer says “any kind of manufacturing: farmers particularly, dentists because of the drills, truck drivers with the window” all may experience hearing loss.
Those who snowmobile, ride motorcycles, mow their lawn, use wood-working equipment, shoot guns or play music can all damage their hearing as well.
“Growing up, when I was downstairs, my mom and dad they’d always bring down earplugs they’d use for mowing the lawn,” said drum instructor Erik Juvonen. “They were always worried about my hearing.”
Juvonen has been protecting his hearing for years; as a band drummer, he knows he’s at a higher risk for losing his hearing.
While teaching 6 to 12-year-olds how to play the drums, Juvonen also makes sure his students’ ears are protected.
“A lot of their hearing — a lot of their body — is still developing, and their ears are connected to their brain, which can’t be good at such a young age” Juvonen said.
Juvonen uses electric drum sets so he can monitor the volume of the drums and keep the volume at an appropriate level.
Tips to help protect your ears
Beyer recommends being aware of how long you’re around loud noises. He says it’s not always about the volume, but the length of time.
For example, listening to loud music for two to three hours, rather than 30 minutes, can make a huge difference.
He also recommends starting early, and protecting your ears with earplugs whenever you’re around loud noises.
If you’re not proactive, hearing loss is hard to catch before it’s too late.
“For the person experiencing it, it changes so gradually usually they never notice,” Beyer said. “To them, it seems the same as yesterday, or last month, or last year.”
The long-term effects of hearing loss
For people who don’t treat their hearing loss, the damage can be incredibly extensive.
“It leads to isolation, depression, anxiety just because when they’re not comfortable with people” Beyer said. “There’s nothing worse than being in a room full of people laughing when you don’t know what they are laughing about.”
Beyer says researchers already know Alzheimer’s, dementia and hearing loss are connected. Now, he says, they are working to prove that hearing loss could possibly cause the two.