Do you remember the last time you took a hearing test? It was probably in grade school with the headphone setup – the test in which you raised the appropriate hand or finger to indicate the side of your head on which you heard the tone? If this sounds familiar, you're probably not alone. In the age of earbuds, hearing loss is in vogue. Loud music has been the calling card of youth for a few decades now, worsened by prevalent in-ear and in-car sound systems. The gradual effects of unsafe volume levels in headphones can significantly affect an individual's ability to hear later in life. And because most people's hearing is not tested past their early teens, the need for skilled audiologists is firmly fixed in our future.
How Hearing Loss Occurs
Hearing loss and tinnitus are natural parts of aging, but they can also occur in a number of other ways as well. A decrease in hearing can be painful or painless, and it can happen gradually or suddenly. It can even be a result of a medication, ear wax, or head trauma. Tinnitus, a ringing or buzzing heard with no external source, can occur as a natural result of the growing of the bones of the ear. Most commonly though, decreases in hearing and occurrences of tinnitus are products of regular exposure to modifying sounds, noises, and frequencies without the use of hearing protection.
Effects of Hearing Loss
The inability to hear clearly can be disorienting and even embarrassing, and tinnitus can have severe psychological effects. It is naturally assumed that these afflictions, in varying degrees, are maladies exclusive to the elderly, but in fact, they are quite common among youth as well. As this is apparently outside the norm, young people can have a hard time dealing with the stigmas, symptoms, and necessary accessories to improve hearing. In addition to the detrimental effects on one's psychology and comfort, tinnitus can severely affect a person's sleep. The discomfort is not reduced with adults and the elderly, nor are there fewer stigmas. What an audiologist can offer today is a wide array of prescriptive and rehabilitative measures.
Advances in the Field
Technological advances in audiology and rehabilitation techniques have come a long way in the field of personal hearing aid. Today, there are many resources available to alleviate the burdens associated with tinnitus or less than perfect hearing. Many solutions available on the market allow for seamless integration into one's routine and are designed to be discrete and comfortable hearing aid solutions. And as stated, there are many new resources for mitigating the effects of tinnitus on one's life.
Taking care of the only set of ears you have by reducing exposure to loud noises is a great way to start caring for your hearing. When considering the available resources, consult your local audiologist should you notice any changes in your hearing. Early detection can help your audiologist work with you to find a solution, thereby reducing the negative effects of living with hearing loss or tinnitus.