People in Lake Charles are exposed to noise on a daily basis. It’s inescapable, and over time, these everyday sounds can cause permanent damage to our hearing. 48 million Americans are afflicted with hearing loss, and the number continues to grow.
Evolution Hasn’t Prepared Us for a Noisy World
Human ears weren’t made to protect against common 21st-century sounds. Our ancestors did not have to worry about busy traffic, noisy jackhammers, raucous sports venues and deafening rock ‘n roll concerts. There is a belief that hearing loss is mostly confined to older people, but it’s the ambient noise we are exposed to when we are younger that sets the stage for impaired hearing later in life.
Noise is the biggest cause of hearing loss in Lake Charles and across the country, and it isn’t just concerts and football games that cause problems. Even seemingly insignificant sounds from household appliances like vacuum cleaners and hair dryers can generate noise loud enough to cause permanent damage over time. Factor in barking dogs, leaf blowers, car alarms and other background sounds we probably don’t even notice, and you’ve got a recipe for an epidemic.
Studies have demonstrated that people who live in places where there is little background noise have lower rates of hearing loss. Indigenous elderly people living in remote areas of the world free of background noise, for example, tend to hear about as well as infants do.
Hearing loss doesn’t just interfere with your ability to communicate. Left untreated, it can lead to a variety of physical, social and psychological health effects. It increases your risk of isolation, loneliness, anxiety and depression. Untreated hearing loss has been linked to dementia, kidney disease and a higher risk of falls. It can affect job performance and create a rift with a spouse or significant other.
Steps to Prevent Hearing Loss
While you can’t do much about everyday sounds around you, there are steps you can take to help reduce your long-term risks of hearing loss. Your Lake Charles audiologist recommends carrying earplugs with you, for starters. Make it a habit to wear them in places such as movie theaters, where the noise from modern surround-sound speakers can reach levels that are hazardous to your hearing. You should also wear them when exposed to other loud sounds, such as mowing the lawn, watching a baseball game or riding a motorcycle, jet ski or boat. Earplugs are especially important if you work in a noisy occupation such as construction, manufacturing or the military. Employers must provide hearing protection to all workers exposed to 8-hour noise levels of 85 decibels (dB) or above.
It would also help if people paid the same attention to their hearing as they do their vision and dental health. Hearing exams are the best way to detect problems early and provide individuals with the treatment they need to help prevent or delay many of the long-term health consequences associated with hearing loss.
For more tips on preserving your hearing, contact an audiologist in Lake Charles.