How to Tell If You Have a Hearing Loss

If you could prevent losing your hearing, would you? Of course you would! Noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) is the most common type of hearing loss that we experience — and, ironically, the easiest to protect against.

NIHL is the result of repeated exposure to loud noises that damage the delicate structures in the inner ear. Think about your favorite activities or daily routine; where is there loud noise? Everywhere! From sporting events, movies, hunting and even certain professions, these activities and places are all home to certain noises that are loud enough to potentially damage your hearing.

The every day volume level at which your hearing might be at risk is 85 decibels (dB), but the length of time of the exposure is also a factor in determining how much risk is involved. Many of us are not aware of when noise is loud enough to cause damage during daily activities; below are some situations you may experience. As a reference, normal conversation is about 60 dB. Here are a few common and not so common noises you may be exposed to in your everyday life:

• A gunshot at close range (150 dB) can be loud enough to rupture an eardrum.
• An ambulance siren at close range (120 dB) is loud enough to cause pain.
• Sporting events (as high as 110 to 115 dB) for three hours or more — may put you at risk for hearing damage within just 15 minutes of exposure.
• Motorcycles, farm tractors, jackhammers, and garbage trucks (100 dB).
• Lawn mowers, blenders, and heavy truck traffic (90 dB or greater).

Protect your hearing with a set of comfortable, custom-molded hearing plugs, in situations you can control. The trouble with NIHL is that, it can be sneaky, with the damage happening slowly over time. Many people don’t realize they have hearing loss until it’s too late.

Recognizing the warning signs of hearing loss is important. Here are some common signs that you or someone you know might have a hearing loss:

• Asking people to repeat themselves often
• Difficulty following conversations that involve multiple people
• Thinking that others are mumbling or speaking too quietly
• Difficulty understanding speech in noisy situations
• Others commenting on how loud your TV or radio is
• Inappropriate responses during conversation
• Stress from straining to hear what others are saying
• Withdrawing from social situations

Besides saying “What?” on a reoccurring basis, hearing loss doesn’t just impact you; it impacts those around you as well. Hearing loss influences your mental and physical health in a variety of ways. Hearing loss can affect your social, economic, academic, and personal successes, developing slowly over time and may lead to more disruptive, life-altering diseases. As a whole, hearing loss negatively affects overall quality of life, social life, and mental and physical well-being.

Protect your hearing as best you can. Then put you and your loved ones’ health first by stopping in for a complimentary hearing screening. We’ll take the next step toward better hearing — together. Look out for more topics on hearing health and whole-body health next month!