Listen Up or Lose It

By  | 

You've heard the saying, “Stop and smell the roses.” How about taking a “timeout” to hear what you may be missing? More than 24 million Americans have a significant hearing loss. And 77% of people age 19 and over will eventually lose their hearing. The reality, hearing loss is the most preventable disability in the world.

People carrying on a conversation, 40 decibels. A telephone ringing, 80 decibels. A helicopter, 100 decibels. Individually, they're loud. But collectively, everyday sounds, over time, could add up to some significant hearing loss.

One concert is plenty loud. But go to 20 of them and you may not be able to hear the 21st. About 60% of the musicians inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame suffer from some form of hearing impairment.

Dr. Cameron Shaw is with the Colorado Hearing & Balance Clinic in Colorado Springs. He tests people to gauge what kind of hearing loss they might be experiencing. “We present those sounds levels and tones to their ears and it’s important for the patient to signal if they hear that at the proper level.”

Dr. Shaw says the sound of a lawn mower would be about 90 decibels. The Occupational Safety & Health Administration says one hour of exposure at that level, with protection, would be its recommended limit. And without proper protection, that’s cut to just half an hour of exposure.

Hearing loss creeps into our lives. Typically, the high tones disappear first. Premature hearing loss is usually evident for men in their 40's and for women in their late 50's and 60's.

Most often it is linked to noise damage we can all control. It's all about common sense and reducing noise damage on the job or at home. Your hearing doesn't have to age prematurely.