The old stereotype of hearing aids dictates that when many people think of them, they probably think of people of an advanced age. While statistically, hearing loss may skew toward an older portion of the population, people from all walks of life are at risk of losing their hearing ability. This is particularly the case for those who suffer noise-induced hearing loss, and issues like tinnitus.
Here are some of the risk factors for groups of people that researchers and medical professionals have identified as potentially being susceptible to hearing loss.
People who listen to music too loud (and musicians): Maybe because of the digital music revolution of the past decade or so, there’s more awareness than ever of the long-term effects of loud music. So many of us, particularly in younger generations, walk around with earbuds blasting. But we don’t only have iPods to blame – many of us have been to loud concerts, sporting events or shows where we walk out with our ears ringing. Earplugs are an excellent solution to minimize your exposure to sounds that are too loud.
People who work in trades and certain professions: Power tools: a great innovation, and a great threat to cause hearing damage over time. Noise-induced hearing loss can occur from prolonged exposure to loud noises, and that potentially puts people who work in many different occupations at risk – from contractors and construction workers to people who work in manufacturing plants.
People who have medical ailments: It seems that not a week goes by without a new study that links a medical condition to hearing loss. Alzheimer’s & Dementia. Diabetes. Sleep Apnea … in addition to numerous others.
On the other side of the coin, hearing loss has been linked as a cause (rather than a symptom) of other medical issues, like depression, reduced cognitive function and accelerated loss of brain tissue.
The thing to take away from this is that it seems as if your hearing system can potentially be affected by other things going on with your body. That’s why it’s so vital to address any health issues, hearing or otherwise, as soon as they arise.
Smokers: …As if you needed another reason to stay away from tobacco. Although further study is needed, this study suggests that smokers are more likely to have hearing loss. This could speak to the fact that environmental exposures may play a role in age-related hearing loss.
People who had lots of ear infections as kids: Those who have had recurring ear infections during childhood are at risk of suffering irreversible damage to the cochlea and middle ear, particularly if they were not properly treated at the time. This can potentially lead to impaired hearing as adults.
Hearing aids are one approach that can be taken to significantly improve auditory function for those with hearing loss, but there are many different potential courses of action to take depending on the type and severity of your hearing loss.