Life is enriched by interaction with and reaction to many sounds, sights, tastes, smells, and touch. Of all these sensory inputs, hearing impacts our relationships and interactions more than any other sense. Hearing is vital to human activities, learning, information exchange, and connection with others. Hearing is a constant stream of auditory input in which the ears detect sound signals and convert them to nerve impulses that travel to your brain for interpretation into meaningful communication. Our brain uses this information to alert and protect us, communicate with other people, and monitor our own voices. We rely on hearing whether we are asleep or awake.
Hearing loss (HL) is the third most commonly reported physical condition in the U.S. It affects roughly 20% of the American population and can impact people of all ages resulting in isolation or disconnection from the world. Trouble following conversation in noise, missing parts of the conversation, feeling like others are mumbling, needing to increase the volume on the television, and avoiding or losing interest in social gatherings are all symptoms of HL.
HL often progresses gradually over time and may result from aging, noise exposure, ear infections, earwax, viral disease, and genetic factors. HL can be classified as sensorineural, conductive or a combination of both.
In order to interpret sound correctly, the brain needs complete, detailed, and accurate information. If this is not occurring, the brain must work harder. HL in demanding situations increases the amount of effort it takes to understand and process, which can be exhausting.
Protect your hearing and preserve the ability to listen to the sounds of life by avoiding noise, using hearing protection devices when exposed to noise and keep your body healthy. Other health concerns like diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease impact your hearing. People with hearing loss on average die younger than people who can hear well and perform more poorly on tests of cognitive ability and memory.
Staying fully engaged and stimulated with a variety of sounds, including music, nature, and human interaction promotes hearing health. When HL is detected, being fully engaged often requires the use of assistive hearing technology.
What should I do when I notice a decline in the ability to hear? It is important to schedule an appointment for a complete medical evaluation of your hearing loss with an ENT physician and audiologist to assess the structures and function of the ears. A diagnostic audiological assessment will evaluate the outer, middle, and inner ear to determine the type and degree of hearing loss.
To be continued next month…
For more information visit nalent.com.