An estimated 36 million people in the United States have hearing loss to some degree. Overexposure to loud sounds results in 33% of those cases.
In the workplace, The Occupational Safety and Health and Administration (OSHA) regulates how much loud noise an employee can be exposed to in a given period of time without hearing protection. For example, if the sound level is 95 decibels, then an employee may only work 4 hours in that environment without hearing protection. OSHA will periodically inspect worksites and industrial locations and enforce compliance.
But recreational activities remain the main culprits behind hearing loss. Don't listen to your music so loud (and maybe try more Bossanova and less EDM). Also, wear earplugs when you shoot skeet.
The First Signs of Hearing Loss
For the hearing impaired, speech often sounds garbled or muffled. Individual words can be difficult to make out, especially in a crowded room. Many people also report that hard consonant sounds are difficult to make out. They also often need others to repeat things loudly and very slowly.
People with hearing impairment may also have trouble falling asleep in a quiet room due to tinnitus, a condition in which the ears ring constantly. If your ears are ringing, then your hearing has been damaged recently.
The American Academy of Audiology points out that hearing loss reduces a person's quality of life. Those who have trouble hearing may avoid social situations because they have trouble hearing and understanding others.
Getting a Hearing Test
If you suddenly lose your ability to hear in one ear or both, see your doctor immediately. This is a medical emergency. Otherwise, when you notice that your ability to hear is interfering with your daily life, schedule an exam with your physician. They will determine if you should see an audiologist, a healthcare provider who conducts hearing exams.
The audiologist will conduct some tests to determine the nature of your hearing loss. Is it conductive or sensorineural hearing loss? They will also determine which ear has the most hearing damage. You will be able to see the results of your examination on an audiogram, a graphical representation of your hearing test. And if necessary, the audiologist will fit you with hearing aids or custom hearing protection devices to protect your remaining ability to hear.
Sadly, most hearing loss is not reversible. If you have suffered hearing loss, maintenance and preservation of what you have left should be the goal. Look for a local business like Accurate Hearing Technology Inc for more information about hearing tests.