Pre-Retirement and Your Hearing Health
Protect Your Hearing Now!
If we’re lucky, we’ll live long enough to experience age-related hearing loss, also known as presbycusis. But what are we doing in the meantime to make sure that we’re hearing our best once we leave the workforce? Here are a few suggestions;
- Protect against noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL). According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), as many as 40 million American adults have hearing loss attributed to excessive exposure to noise. Sounds over 85 decibels (dB) are particularly harmful, especially if you’re exposed to them for more than 8 hours a day. If you enjoy a noisy hobby, such as hunting or motorcycle riding, wear appropriate hearing protection. Turn down the volume on your electronic devices, most especially anything you listen to through earphones. Limit your exposure to noisy environments -- sports stadiums, concerts -- and be intentional about moving away from loud noise you encounter accidentally.
- Find a hearing healthcare professional and get a baseline hearing evaluation. If you don’t have a relationship with a hearing healthcare professional (HHP), now is the perfect time to establish one and make an appointment. Hearing evaluations are quick, easy and painless. The results will tell your provider how well you’re hearing now and provide the baseline they need to monitor changes in your hearing.
- Know your family’s hearing health history. While some forms of hearing loss can be explained by noise and age-related conditions, others like otosclerosis, Usher’s Syndrome and Pendred Syndrome are hereditary. Sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL), the most common type of hearing loss, isn’t hereditary; however, if other family members have been diagnosed with SNHL it’s best to share this information with your hearing care professional, too. The more your clinician knows about your family’s hearing health, the better prepared they will be if you develop similar symptoms.
- Adopt a healthy lifestyle now. Why wait until the New Year to make these resolutions? Begin now. Not only will you have a head start on next year, your hearing health will benefit. Why? Because the health of your inner ear is directly related to the health of your circulatory system. Anything that interferes with your circulation -- such as heart disease, smoking or obesity -- can damage or kill the sensory hair cells in the cochlea. These hair cells are responsible for translating the noise your outer ear collects into electrical impulses for the brain to interpret as the daily sounds you recognize.
Protecting your hearing health now will most definitely pay you dividends in retirement. And, should you develop hearing loss, resolve to treat it sooner rather than later. Those who wait increase their risks of developing other medical issues such as:
- Injury - Untreated hearing loss puts you at greater risk for accidental injury. Studies have also found that those with untreated hearing loss are three times more likely to experience tripping and falling.
- Increase risk of developing dementia or Alzheimer’s - Untreated hearing loss is one of the nine risk factors associated with developing dementia.
- Poor emotional health - Untreated hearing loss takes a toll on your psychological health, too, and increases your risk of depression.
(Author: Debbie Clason)