Age is one of the major causes of hearing loss. Our hearing ability is decreased in our 30s or 40s and loss is significant by age 80. Despite this, more than half of all hearing-impaired people are of working age. Often hearing loss comes so gradually that people ignore it or deny it. Only after others tell them the TV is too loud or when people object to repeating things over and over do they finally admit it. Only about 25 percent of people who could benefit from hearing aids actually wear them. Studies show that those with untreated hearing loss suffer more often from depression, anxiety, emotional problems, and loss of social activity.
What causes hearing loss?
- Heredity. If your parents or siblings have hearing loss, your risk is increased.
- Exposure to loud noise. Continuous noise of 85 decibels results in hearing damage. (This is the sound of heavy road traffic.) Most work environments are kept to 80 dB, and hearing protection is provided.
- Exposure and intense sounds can cause a temporary threshold shift. It is experienced as a temporary dullness in your hearing after exposure to loud noise. Hearing fully or partially recovers.
- A permanent threshold shift is experienced 48 hours after exposure to very loud noise or exposure to excessive noise for long periods. This type of hearing loss can increase for up to five years after exposure.
- Rock concerts can reach 110 to 120 dB. The same intensity can easily be produced in stereo headsets.
- Cigarette smoking can damage your ability to hear. The risk increases with the number of cigarettes smoked.
A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that 25.9 percent of smokers in the 48 to 59 age group suffered hearing loss compared to 16 percent of nonsmokers.