Hearing loss affects more than 48 million Americans of all ages, including some 15% of school-aged children who have some degree of hearing loss.
World Hearing Day, a World Health Organization (WHO) initiative held on March 3rd of each year, seeks to raise awareness about the importance of healthy hearing. The 2018 World Hearing Day theme, Hear the Future, recognizes hearing conservation as an important self-protective behavior in the prevention of hearing loss. The United States Congress recently recognized World Hearing Day as an important opportunity to encourage self-protective behaviors and early intervention to prevent and treat hearing loss.
The enclosed hearing health brief, “Protecting Your Hearing with PITCH-Perfect Hearing Health Habits” released by the Academy of Doctors of Audiology (ADA), outlines PITCH-perfect hearing health habits to help people optimize their hearing over a lifetime. PITCH incorporates four simple principles: Protect, Investigate, Treat and Check.
“As it turns out, one of the greatest threats to hearing is sound itself,” explains ADA President, Dr. Alicia Spoor. “Therefore, the first and most important healthy hearing habit is to protect your hearing from exposure to loud noise.”
“The good news is that noise-induced hearing loss is 100 percent preventable,” said Dr. Spoor. “Hearing conservation is inexpensive, and anyone, even a small child can readily learn to protect themselves from a noise overdose.”
In addition to taking action to prevent hearing loss, the ADA also stresses the importance of investigating hearing problems right away, especially if you experience any of the following conditions: Pain or discomfort in the ear; visible deformity of the ear; acute or chronic dizziness; suspected foreign body or object in the ear; drainage from the ear; sudden or rapidly progressive hearing loss; and unilateral (one-sided) hearing loss.
Kim Brown, Au.D., audiologist at ENT Centers of Excellence in Foley and Daphne agrees. “When it comes to hearing loss, it is never a good idea to take a wait-and-see approach. Call your ENT (ear, nose and throat) physician or audiologist and get in for an assessment as soon as possible.”
“Untreated hearing loss poses serious secondary health risks, including an increased risk of falls, depression, social isolation, and cognitive decline,” said Dr. Brown. “Your brain actually has to work harder to compensate for hearing loss, which can lead to fatigue, confusion, and irritability. A prolonged hearing deficit can affect your brain’s ability to decode sounds so that they can be comprehended, making successful aural rehabilitation much more difficult.”
Regular audiologic check-ups are the best way to keep your hearing healthy over your lifetime. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends a hearing screening at birth; at ages 4, 5 and 6, years; an assessment using audiometry between 11 and 14 years; between 15 and 17 years; and between 18 and 21 years. ADA recommends that adults receive a baseline audiologic evaluation, and hearing loss prevention counseling at least every five years, beginning at 20 years of age, and annually beginning at 50 years of age. Those involved in professional or recreational pursuits that involve noisy environments (e.g. aviation, construction, entertainment and sporting venues, manufacturing, mining, military operations, and farming) are at highest risk for noise exposure, and should be tested annually, or at intervals determined by an audiologist, or required by law.
Use the PITCH principles to protect hearing, investigate and treat problems, and to get regular audiologic exams, to maintain healthy hearing throughout your life.
About ENT Centers of Excellence
ENT Centers of Excellence provides complete ENT care for the entire family in Foley and Daphne, Alabama. Dr. Keith Kowal and his team offer comprehensive diagnosis and treatment for all types of ear, nose and throat conditions. Available services include treatment for ear, nose and throat conditions, Audiology and Hearing Aid Services, in-office Balloon Sinuplasty for treatment of chronic sinusitis, Allergy testing and Immunotherapy. For more information, visit www.entcoe.com.