It’s a Great Day for Hearing Health!

AHG Hearing HealthThere was some promising hearing health news lately – a paper published in the journal JAMA Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery, discovered that hearing loss prevalence in working age Americans has actually decreased in recent years! This is great news, and just goes to show that hearing health awareness is finally doing its job.

According to the paper, researchers reported a decline from 15.9 percent of the working age population suffering from hearing loss, down to 14.1 percent. They also stated that the total number of hearing loss individuals in America has also declined from 28 million to 27.7 million.

The Reasoning Behind the Decline

Even though hearing loss does continue to be a concern, it’s encouraging to think that Americans are taking hearing health more seriously these days.

One area where we have seen some vast improvements is in the manufacturing arena. Employers are realizing the need for their employees to wear hearing protection, and educating them on the dangers of neglecting it. Even OSHA has stepped up to the plate; in 1981, OSHA implemented the Hearing Conservation Program. This program protects workers who are exposed to a time weighted average noise level of 85 dBA or higher over an 8 hour work shift.

Physicians have also helped by reducing the use of ototoxic medications unless absolutely necessary. Where some antibiotics, and other medications causing hearing loss, were once widely used, they are now severely restricted. Also of medical importance, is the use of certain immunizations against diseases that can cause hearing loss, such as measles.

There is also the thought that, we as a population, are more health conscious overall – and that extends to our hearing health as well. Other research has discovered that there is a broad international health trend, which shows that almost every major disease and disability is on the decline. They aren’t necessarily eradicated, just occurring later in life. Seventy is the new fifty!

How can we Keep it Up?

So how do we keep this downward trend going? Education, education, education. The more that Americans are educated on the need to wear hearing protection, and limit their exposure to loud noise, the better. We need to be more aware of the causes behind hearing loss, whether from noise exposure or from other environmental factors and avoid them at all costs.

One surprising topic in this paper was headphones. While there is a huge noise exposure danger with headphones, it seems that we are learning how to use them properly. Their study looked at individuals in their 20’s who have experienced widespread headphone usage over the last decade. They discovered that they had no more hearing loss than people their age a decade ago. Long term data hasn’t been gathered yet, but we hope that this remains the case once it does.

Next Steps

An easy way to keep on top of our hearing health is to have a hearing test or hearing screening. Most school aged children are required to have some sort of hearing screening before entering school, but many adults neglect it.

The greatest risk factor for hearing loss is age. It is important to have a hearing test done periodically throughout your lifetime, but especially as you get older. The earlier it can be detected and treated, the better, for a positive patient outcome.

Our audiologists can conduct a thorough hearing test in the office, but if you just want a quick snapshot of your current hearing health, try our online hearing assessment. Our website also has some great information on hearing health and what risk factors to be on the lookout for.

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