I am asked regularly by my patients, “What causes hearing loss?” While the question may seem simple enough, the answer isn’t as straightforward as you may think.
Jane Brody recently wrote a terrific article in the New York Times addressing this very topic.
She points out that noise, not age, is the most common cause of hearing loss. According to the National Institute of Health, 15% of people Americans between the ages of 20-69 have Noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL). Brody goes on to say that, “The sad truth is that many of us are responsible for our own hearing loss.”
She’s right. Because of the occupational risk of hearing loss, there are government regulations in place now that regulate exposure to loud noises. However, many people are exposed outside of work. Portable music devices, concerts, sirens, lawn mowers and leaf blowers, car alarms and even hair dryers can damage your hearing.
Sound is measured in decibels and exposure to sounds over 85 dB may lead to hearing loss.
Fortunately, NIHL can be prevented:
- Become aware of which sounds in your environment can cause damage.
- When using personal listening devices with earphones, limit the volume and duration of use. Consider using earphones that block out background noise, which will allow you to listen at lower volumes for longer periods of time.
- Use hearing protection devices (HPDs) such as earplugs, earmuffs or headphones when you’re going to be involved in activities that will expose you to loud sounds.
You can read the whole NYT article here: https://nyti.ms/14i2Lk1