Many people experience hearing loss.
Many of those people don’t take the initiative to treat that hearing loss. Research has shown that although 80% of senior citizens between the ages of 60-79 have some degree of hearing loss, less than one-third of them admit to being aware of it when tested.
May is Better Hearing and Speech Month, making now the perfect time to become more informed about how being proactive with your hearing health can improve your quality of life.
Hearing loss is often caused by the aging process – known as presbycusis – or long-term exposure to loud noises. Other factors may also contribute to hearing loss, including health conditions like heart disease and diabetes, as well as certain medications (including some chemotherapy drugs, diuretics, and high doses of ibuprofen and aspirin).
Prevent Further Damage To Your Hearing
Whether or not you’ve noticed a decline in your hearing, it’s a good idea to take action now to limit further damage. How?
- Annual hearing test: Get your hearing tested every year, just as you see your doctor for an annual checkup. These tests can measure the amount of hearing loss in both ears and help the hearing professional develop a plan of treatment before the condition progresses.
- Be mindful of volume on music devices: Even though it seems obvious, this is an easy one to overlook. A favorite song comes on and the first inclination is to turn it up! However, this subjects our ears to dangerous noise levels. An Apple iPhone can play music up to 100 decibels. Listening at that level for more than 10 minutes can damage your hearing. Keep the volume bar closer to the middle – listening at 70% is safe for eight hours a day.
- Speak up when you hear less: If you notice your hearing isn’t what it once was, say something to your doctor. Changes to look for include:
- Withdrawing from conversations or social activities
- Frequently turning up volume on TV or music
- Speech sounds muffled
- Difficulty hearing consonants
Improved Access to Hearing Services
U.S. senators Elizabeth Warren and Rand Paul introduced legislation designed to make it easier for millions of Medicare beneficiaries to access hearing and balance services.
The Audiology Patient Choice Act will allow Medicare Part B patients to visit their audiologist without requiring a referral from a primary physician. It will also allow patients to have expanded access to a full range of hearing health care services, while also classifying audiologists as physicians in the Medicare program. Basically, the bill aims to bring audiologists in line with other providers such as dentists, podiatrists, optometrists and chiropractors.