senior man hard of hearingCan you hear me now? According to the Hearing Loss Association of America, 48 million people have some degree of hearing loss. When noise-induced, this condition is preventable. Yet, the issue of hearing loss is often passed off as someone just being “hard of hearing.”

October is National Protect Your Hearing Month. One in every three people between the ages of 65 and 74 has hearing loss. What should older individuals know about protecting their ears from this condition?

How Dangerous Is Hearing Loss?

After arthritis and heart disease, hearing loss is the most common physical condition among Americans. This “invisible” disease can often be overlooked as a state of confusion or natural sign of aging in seniors, yet it should not be ignored.

Hearing loss can put older people in serious danger if they fail to hear a car horn or smoke alarm warning of sudden danger. Although there is no scientific way to prevent age-related hearing loss, seniors can take the following steps to preserve their hearing.

Understand Effects of Medications

Some medications are toxic to the ear’s sensory cells, which can contribute to hearing loss. If you are taking high doses of pain medication or receiving chemotherapy, these drugs can cause a ringing in the ears that interferes with actual hearing. Tell your primary physician right away if you experience this symptom.

Limit Exposure to Loud Noises

Yardwork like mowing the lawn or blowing leaves can gradually damage the eardrums after long periods of time. When performing these activities, wear earplugs or earmuffs to reduce the high volume and negative impact on the ears.

With more seniors investing in new technology, they may use an iPhone or iPad with earbuds. When using them for music, doctors suggest a 60/60 rule: Listening at 60 percent volume for 60 minutes.

Assess Your Workplace

If you are an older individual near or working past retirement age, your work environment could be contributing to hearing loss. Depending on the industry, you could be exposed to hazardous levels of noise five days a week. There is also a risk of hearing loss when working with certain solvents and metals.

If your work environment is contributing to hearing loss, talk to your supervisor about reducing the environmental factors or moving to another department that is less noisy.

Do I Have Hearing Loss?

Common signs of this condition include turning up the TV or radio to unusually high levels, difficulty having conversations in a busy environment and trouble hearing phone calls. Fortunately, there are treatments for mild to moderate hearing loss, including hearing aids, cochlear implants and other assistive listening devices.

West Hartford Health & Rehabilitation Center is a community resource for seniors and their families who have health concerns. To learn more about hearing loss prevention, contact us today!