woman cupping ear smiling

Prioritize Better Hearing in the New Year!

In Hearing Health by Dr. Jason Leyendecker

Dr. Jason Leyendecker
Latest posts by Dr. Jason Leyendecker (see all)

It’s the New Year! What resolutions will you be making this year? Most of us set some kind of health goals for the year but have you ever set a hearing health goal? Hearing health is important for everyone. In fact, untreated hearing loss has been linked to increased risk for dementia and cognitive decline. So what can you do to monitor your hearing health and prevent hearing loss this year? Let’s look at some easy steps everyone can take to prioritize their hearing this year!

Hearing Tests 

Hearing tests are recommended for all adults. All adults means everyone, regardless of past medical history and regardless of any symptoms of hearing loss. Hearing tests are a good way to obtain a baseline for your hearing. 

Hearing tests, or audiograms, are performed by hearing health providers called audiologists. Once you reach a certain age, your audiologist may recommend getting a hearing test more often depending on your age and history.

Audiologists will want to review your past occupational and medical history. This is largely due to the fact that hearing loss has many potential causes. They may also want to review hearing loss prevention techniques given your lifestyle. We will review some of those later. 

Audiograms are performed by audiologists in a small soundproof room. You will sit in a chair in the room alone with headphones on and a hand held button to click. Beeps of various frequencies and volumes will play through the headphones in each ear separately. When you hear a beep, you will press the button in your hand. 

The results of this test are printed on a graph, with frequency on one axis and volume on the other. Each beep you hear is dot on the graph and each ear is graphed separately.

As mentioned, every adult should have a baseline hearing test as something to use for comparison at a later date. Additionally, because hearing loss can be slow and gradual, you may not even notice if you’ve started to lose some hearing. 

Protect your Hearing

One of the best ways to prioritize your hearing is to protect it by preventing hearing loss or further hearing loss. Being aware of your surroundings and the potential for loud noises is crucial. 

It may surprise you that common noises are just as capable of causing hearing loss as the big things. Lawnmowers, traffic noise, and food blenders are just a few of these everyday noises that can cause damage if exposed continuously. Big events such as live sporting events and concerts are also known to cause ear damage and hearing loss. Without being able to avoid these situations, or not wanting to in the case of concerts, how can you protect yourself? Let’s look at some steps for preventing hearing loss below. 

  • Sound Level Meters, or SLMs, can be used to measure the level of noise in decibels in a given area. These are particularly useful in settings where you may not have a reference for how loud it can be, such as a concert or live sporting event. SLMs are available as small portable devices or as an app on your smartphone. Their ease of use and availability make it easy to track your noise exposure and determine when ear protection is necessary. 
  • Ear plugs or headphones are some of the most common methods for ear protections and noise cancellation. Ear plugs specifically are small and easy to carry anywhere in your purse or pockets. 
  • Medications and their possible side effects are important to be aware of. Some medications, even over the counter medications, have ototoxic effects. Ototoxicity translates literally to ear poisoning. Because of this, it is important to only take medications as directed, know the possible side effects, and consult with a healthcare provider if you notice any changes to your hearing. 
  • Monitor any other conditions you may have such as diabetes. Many diseases can cause further issues if they go unmonitored and untreated. Make sure you are working with your healthcare provider to manage any other conditions you have appropriately.

As you can see there are many ways you and your loved ones can prioritize hearing this New Year! Speak to an audiologist today about scheduling a hearing test.