More than 5 percent of the world’s population have some kind of hearing loss. One in ten people has impaired hearing that can be classified as disabling. If you learn that you have hearing loss, one of the main concerns you may have is whether the condition will worsen over time and what steps you can take to prevent hearing loss from getting worse. It is important to understand that every case of hearing loss is different and that whether or not your hearing will continue to deteriorate may depend, in part, on its cause.
There are many causes of hearing loss, two of which are age and noise. Hearing loss that is caused by age or noise cannot be eliminated or reversed. However, you can take steps to preserve your remaining hearing and improve your quality of life.
Age and Hearing Loss
Aging is considered the most common cause of hearing loss. Referred to specifically as presbycusis, the loss of hearing due to age is the result of damage to the hair cells and nerves in your inner ear. This leads to an impaired ability to hear high-pitched sounds, like that of a child’s voice. It also makes it difficult for you to distinguish between certain consonants, including F, K, P, S, and T, which can make understanding speech difficult.
While you cannot reverse your age, you can take steps to make sure that you are in good health, which may prevent hearing loss from getting worse. Having good cardiovascular health and preventing or controlling chronic diseases can help preserve the remaining microcirculation in your inner ear.
Noise and Hearing Loss
Noise is considered the second leading cause of hearing loss. Noise-induced hearing loss, or acoustic trauma, is the result of being repeatedly exposed to very loud noises. This type of hearing loss affects people of all ages and can be caused by spending an inordinate amount of time around loud music, motorcycles, airplane travel, lawnmowers, or any other device or event that produces high-decibel noises.
To prevent hearing loss caused by excessive noise exposure from progressing, it is important that you are extra aware of your environment and make an effort to avoid the loud noises that have been affecting your hearing. If you are unable to avoid such noises, such as those at your place of work, be sure to wear the appropriate hearing protection gear.
Get the Help You Need
If you believe that you have begun to lose your hearing or are developing a ringing in your ear called tinnitus, you should schedule an appointment with a hearing specialist to be tested. In the majority of cases, hearing loss can be progressive, and detecting it early may give you the best chance to stop it from worsening. There are many different types of hearing aids you can use to hear better, as well as assistive hearing devices, like telephone amplifiers. The hearing specialist can help you determine the cause of your hearing loss and work with you to design a plan to protect your remaining hearing.