Harmful: Loud music can lead to damage inside your ear. Personal music players should never be turned up too loud. *MCT photo
Harmful: Loud music can lead to damage inside your ear. Personal music players should never be turned up too loud. *MCT photo

WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 5: For many of us, a world without hearing is hard to imagine.

Common myth suggests that those with hearing loss are usually elderly.

However, people of all ages suffer from loss of hearing and it’s more common than you think.

Doctors believe that heredity and chronic exposure to loud noises are the main factors that contribute to hearing loss over time. The effects of noise on hearing are often underestimated because the damage takes place so gradually.

Jobs where loud noise is a regular part of the working environment can lead to damage inside your ear as can other recreational activities with dangerously high noise levels, such as listening to loud music. Personal music players can cause lasting hearing loss if you turn the volume up high enough to mask the sound of other loud noises, such as those from a lawn mower.

Loud blasts of noise, sudden changes in pressure, poking your eardrum with an object and infection can cause your eardrum to rupture and affect your hearing.

In addition earwax can block the ear canal and cause hearing loss, which usually can be restored with earwax removal.

Some medications, such as the antibiotic gentamicin and certain chemotherapy drugs, can damage the inner ear.

Temporary effects on your hearing, such as ringing in the ear or hearing loss can occur if you take very high doses of aspirin and other pain relievers.

Sadly, many people affected with hearing loss are reluctant to seek help. Untreated hearing loss poses considerable negative social, psychological, cognitive and health effects. In fact, a growing body of research indicates that people with untreated hearing loss may be at an increased risk of depression.

Talk to your doctor if difficulty hearing is interfering with your daily life. Your hearing may have deteriorated if you find that it’s harder to understand everything that’s said in conversation, especially when there’s background noise; if sounds seem muffled; or if you find yourself having to turn the volume higher when you listen to music, the radio or television.  You can’t reverse hearing loss, however, you don’t have to live in a world of muted, less distinct sounds. You and your doctor or hearing specialist can take steps to improve what you hear.

In addition, one-third of hearing loss is preventable. So be aware of noisy environments and consider the following guidelines:

Limit exposure time to noisy activities.

At home, turn down the volume on the television, radio, stereos and iPods.

Wear ear plugs or muffs when using loud equipment (i.e. power saw, leaf blower).

Reduce the number of noisy appliances running at the same time in your personal environment.

Avoid medications that can be dangerous to your hearing. Be sure to ask your physician or pharmacist about possible effects on your hearing.

While many people may not normally give it a second thought, it’s important to recognise hearing as major part of overall health that can be maintained through prevention.

Stephanie Simons is the head pharmacist at Lindo’s Pharmacy in Devonshire.

For more information, visit Lindo’s at www.lindos.bm.