How to Prevent Hearing Loss
I am excited to be working with EPIC Hearing Healthcare to talk about a subject that I don’t see covered often on parenting and natural wellness websites.
Did you know that in 1998 the Third National Health and Nutrition survey showed that 1 in 7 children had low or high frequency hearing loss in at least one ear? (source)
The numbers haven’t gotten any better since then and the current generation is sometimes referred to as “Generation Deaf”. I don’t want my children to be a part of that generation.
Hearing Loss is Personal to Me
I’ve been acutely aware of the struggle associated with hearing loss for most of my life. My father, who worked on an aircraft carrier in the Navy, road motorcycles, and did supervisory work in a noisy factory, has been a victim of both environment-related and age-related hearing loss.
In addition, I struggle to hear well when there’s background noise. I miss low tones like my husband’s voice, which is soothing, but bass-y. I often have to ask him to repeat himself, look directly at me when he talks so I can also read his lips and even avoid talking to me in crowded places. It’s likely that I suffer some hearing loss because of the years I spent listening to my high school boyfriend’s band play or sitting too close to him as he banged away on the drums. I also loved to blast music from my Walkman into my headphones without heeding any consequence.
When my father’s hearing finally deteriorated enough several years ago for him to need a hearing aid, I began to really think about how to prevent further hearing loss in my own ears and how to protect the hearing of my children.
I considered the things I’d miss the most if my hearing was gone. I wouldn’t be able to play the piano, which is one of my favorite ways to de-stress. I’d miss hearing the birds outside of our rural home. I’d be sad if I couldn’t hear our sweet cats meow their hellos and voice their food-bowl complaints to me each day. I’d be devastated if I couldn’t hear the sounds of my children’s voices.
Raising Generation Deaf
Even more unsettling to me than my own potential for hearing loss is the potential for hearing loss that could affect my children. My children are often “plugged in” to their devices via earbuds while they watch videos, play games or listen to music.
Not only are children at risk at a young age, but some of the most popular career choices carry the risk of hearing loss. Teachers and other school staff have to contend with noisy hallways with slamming lockers, PA systems and class bells. First responders and law enforcement have to deal with sirens, gun shots, loud vehicles and other noise-pollution that affects their hearing.
Anyone who works with loud tools or in loud environments is at risk for hearing loss, but the good news is that with proper monitoring through regular hearing checkups and by practicing hearing loss prevention, we can all preserve the hearing of our children and ourselves.
6 Ways to Prevent Hearing Loss
Turn down the sound
Naturally, this is one of the easiest ways to prevent hearing loss, especially for our children. Don’t allow them to listen through their earbuds or headphones at a high volume. Many devices today have a warning that alerts users when they turn the sound too high. Teach your children to respect these warnings and not blast the volume into their ears.
Wear hearing protection
My and my father’s hearing loss could have been prevented by followed this important advice: Wear hearing protection! Wear earplugs to concerts and while cutting the grass.
Use Outside Noise Reduction Headphones
You may think that outside noise reduction headphones are good simply because they block out sounds. Did you know that they can actually help to prevent hearing loss by allowing you to use your device on lower volume levels? When these headphones block outside noise, they make it easier to hear what’s coming through the headphones and reduce the need to crank up the volume in order to hear.
Don’t Insert Things into Your Ears
This may sound a like common sense tip, but really . . . you’d be surprised. You can damage the eardrum and the delicate bones that are vital to hearing by inserting even the most harmless-looking objects into your ears. So, just don’t do it.
Have a Hearing Detox
If you work in a noisy environment or have recently spent time in loud surroundings, give yourself a hearing detox, or break. Sit outside in a quiet place or close yourself in a quiet room and listen to the silence. Let your ears rest for a while.
Get Regular Hearing Checkups
You probably get regular, preventative exams from your primary care physician, gynecologist, dentist and even your eye doctor, but how often to think about getting your hearing checked? I bet, if you’re like many folks, it has never occurred to you to get regular hearing checks.
Regular hearing checkups can alert you to problems with your hearing before the problems get out of hand. Add regular hearing checks to your family’s preventative care routine.
Do You Already Have Hearing Loss?
If you’re already experiencing hearing loss you should still follow the tips for prevention. In addition, be sure to position yourself to hear the best you can by talking face to face with others instead of side by side or behind; choose quiet places with little background noise to meet and talk with others; ask others to speak clearly and to face you when they talk.
How to Find Hearing Insurance
One reason that you may have not considering regular hearing exams is that your health insurance plan might not cover hearing. In fact, most insurance plans don’t even cover the cost of hearing-loss related items like hearing aids. When my father needed hearing aids, it was a major expense for my parents. Their insurance did not cover the cost at all.
If hearing health is NOT a covered benefit for you, take a stand and request a change. EPIC Hearing Healthcare has created an advocacy flyer that anyone can just share to start a conversation with their HR professional. Download it at: http://www.epichearing.com/listenhear/resources/
Ideally your hearing insurance should cover the following:
- Visits to an audiologist for a complete diagnostic evaluation at least every two years for adults and annually for children
- Coverage of hearing aid treatment
Hearing has too long been ignored until it causes problems. It’s time to cover our ears like we cover the rest of our bodies with preventative healthcare and hearing insurance! Talk to your HR representative about adding hearing health to your healthcare plan.