According to the NIDCD men are more likely to experience hearing loss than women throughout their lifetime. The increased likelihood of male hearing loss is likely due to occupational and recreational behaviors of men. Think about it. Men are more likely to work in occupations with exposure to excessive noise (construction, factories, etc.). They also are more likely to partake in recreational activities with loud noise such as shooting sports, motorcycle riding, woodworking and use of various power tools to name a few. These activities can cause noise induced hearing loss (NIHL) over time.
Men participate in many noise related activities:
A study released by the National Council on Aging (NCOA) in 1999 found that untreated hearing loss was associated with health problems and other quality of life issues. Issues – such as sadness, depression, anxiety, insecurity, and irritability – that have a negative impact on our overall well-being. Not surprisingly, the study also indicated that hearing loss affects both the individuals with the loss, as well as their families.
How you can tell
Hearing loss usually develops over a period of several years. Since it is painless and gradual, you might not notice it. What you might notice is a ringing or other sound in your ear (tinnitus), which can be the result of long-term exposure to noise that has damaged hearing. Or, you may have trouble understanding what people say; they may seem to be mumbling, especially when you are in a noisy place such as in a crowd or at a party. This could be the beginning of high-frequency hearing loss; a hearing test will detect it.
We can tell
Audiologists can tell the difference between normal hearing loss that occurs as we age and noise induced hearing loss. When hearing loss has occurred because of exposure to noise, there is a clear dip in our audiogram graph that will show when an individual has lost the most hearing. In addition to your occupational and personal history, this dip is how an audiologist can determine that your hearing loss is related to noise.
What you should do about it
If you have any suspicion of hearing loss, you may have nothing more serious than impacted wax or an ear infection, which can be corrected. However, it might be hearing loss from noise. In any case, take no chances with noise – the hearing loss it causes is permanent. Start wearing hearing protection around loud machines and come in for a free hearing exam today.