Noisy lives take their toll on Americans

Noisy lives take their toll

SPOKANE, Wash. --- The Center for Disease Control and Prevention said nearly 40 million Americans between the ages of 20 and 69 have damaged hearing.

It is not really surprising to hear that loud music is bad for your hearing. What is surprising is the number of people who have damaged hearing.

The CDC also said that 1 in 4 people who have damaged their hearing and have no idea.

When our ears are exposed to loud noises for long periods of time, the small hairs inside become damaged, lessening the sense of hearing and the damage is irreversible.

We live in a noisy world. Jobs, traffic on the street and music all take a toll on hearing.

"Tons of people have it up too loud. Not to mention people with speakers who just like blast it out of their rooms. I think that's even more common," said college sophomore Joe Kirkegaard.

"Noise induced hearing loss is 100% preventable, if you take the time to take care of your ears. We take care of our eyes.  If we're grinding something we'll wear protective covers. But no one really covers their ears when they're mowing the lawn, using a snow blower... You have to wear proper protective devices," said Audiologist Dr. Lesly Loiseau.

Dr. Loiseau recommends getting your hearing checked every two years.

Since it had been over two years, KREM 2’s Rob Harris had his hearing checked.

First, Dr. Loiseau looked inside Harris’s ears. A little wax, the doctor said, but everything checks out.

Then Harris went into a small, soundproof chamber and donned headphones. Dr. Loiseau played a variety of high pitched noises into both of Harris’ ears. His job was to hit a button when he heard noises.

It was hard. Half the time Harris could not tell if he was actually hearing something or if his brain was just playing tricks on him.  Harris expected to walk out and learn that he had suffered hearing loss.

Much to Harris’ relief, the doctor told him that his hearing was normal.

When Dr. Loiseau showed a graph on the computer, Harris saw both lines, representing his left and right ears, fell within the normal bounds. Harris credits this to keeping his music volume lower.

Dr. Loiseau recommends keeping the volume on music players at about half the max volume. He also suggests wearing ear covers when you are around other loud noises.

The CDC report also said that men are more likely to develop hearing loss than women. Dr. Loiseau said this can be caused by loud noises on jobs traditionally held by men.

Some ways to know that you are doing permanent damage to your hearing: you take out the earbuds, and your hearing seems dull, you feel pressure in your ears and head or you hear ringing in your ears. Those are all signs you need to go in and see a professional. 

© 2017 KREM-TV


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