Losing your hearing can be frustrating but it also can be serious, leading to cognitive decline. It’s important to seek treatment whatever the cause because research shows that people who suffer from hearing loss are at great risk of developing dementia and mental impairment.
Dr. Frank Lin, an otolaryngologist and epidemiologist from Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore, tells Newsmax: “Compared to individuals with normal hearing, people with mild, moderate, and severe hearing loss respectively had a two-, three-, and five-fold increased risk of developing dementia over the course of my study. A mild degree of impairment is part of the aging process, and unfortunately after the age of 65, many people suffer major hearing loss that makes communication difficult.”
Dr. Howard Moskowitz, M.D., an otolaryngologist at the Montefiore Medicine Center in New York, tells Newsmax that, aside from aging, other factors can cause hearing loss.
“Exposure to loud sounds can damage the sensitive structures in the inner ear and cause noise-induced hearing loss,” says Moskowitz. “Noise induced hearing loss can be temporary, but will typically become permanent with repeated and prolonged exposure to high levels of noise without hearing protection.”
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“I recommend that hearing be tested beginning at age 55 or sooner if the patient is experiencing any symptoms of hearing loss or has a history of occupational or recreational noise exposure,” Dawn Boyce, an audiologist in Norwalk, Connecticut, tells Newsmax.
Common symptoms of hearing loss include:
- Asking people to repeat themselves.
- Difficulty hearing when there is background noise.
- Turning up the volume on the television or radio more than you used to.
- Missing telephone calls or having trouble hearing on the phone.
- Friends and family noticing that you are have trouble conversing with them.
According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communications Disorders (NIDCD), 36 million Americans suffer from hearing loss. This includes one-third of the population between 65 and 74 years of age, says Boyce, and half the people over the age of 75.
“While one doesn’t always lose hearing from aging, most people will experience some degree of hearing age over a certain age. Genetics plays a factor, as does noise exposure and certain other environmental factors,” the audiologist says. “Certain health conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure can contribute to hearing loss, as well as the use of some medications.”
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