Prevalence and Symptoms of Hearing Loss
An analysis conducted on US national health discovered that out of a total 6.6 million adults in the United States that experienced an accidental injury between the years of 2007 and 2015, around 1 in 6 considered their ability to hear to be of a quality less than “good” or “excellent”. As the self-assigned hearing difficulty monikers increase in severity, so did the risk of harm to oneself through an accidental injury. Participants who stated they had “a lot of trouble” effectively hearing were discovered to have double the rate of accident susceptibility. Accidental harm to oneself is one of the leading causes of death in the United States – making hearing impairment a serious health risk when all factors are accounted for.
This cross-sectional study focused on two major outcome variables, and then examined the correlation between them. The variables in question were whether a participant had experienced an accidental injury in the last 3 months, and if the person rated their hearing as “excellent,” “good,” “a little trouble,” “moderate trouble,” or “deaf.” This data was then filtered through a multivariate analysis using other demographic information to rule out other correlation causes (like age, gender, or occupation.) Accident types were recorded as well: “driving related,” “leisure or sport related,” and “work related” were the assigned monikers for those variables, but the type of accident is less relevant in measuring a correlation between hearing impairment and accidental injury.
The overall conclusion of this study is that “impaired hearing” and “accidental injuries” share a strong correlation, and very likely have a causal relationship as well.
In February of 2009, the journal of “Ear and Hearing” published a study that examined the effectiveness of smoke alarms for those with hearing impairment. A variety of different alarm types were tested. Alarms involving visual cues like “strobe lights” were found to be ineffective at waking a sleeping person. Alarms involving tactile cues like a “vibrating pillow” has some effectiveness at waking a sleeping person. Smoke alarms with audio cues of some kind were found to be the most effective across a variety of types of users – including the hearing impaired. Lower frequencies were found to be the best for those with hearing impairments in particular. All participants consistently reacted faster to low frequency alarms compared to tactile or visual cues-based alarm systems.
Some forms of danger aren’t accompanied by an effective alarm though. Some dangers come more quietly – making the hearing impaired more vulnerable. A distant call for help, a muffled cry of an infant, a siren across town warning of a tornado or similar disaster: these all could be missed by someone with impaired hearing. People have relied on their ability to hear to warn them of danger since the beginning. It’ both reflexive and instinctive for us. Being without effective hearing can pose a very real threat – one that often goes overlooked.
How do you know if you have hearing loss, and what should you do about it?
If those around you complain about the TV or radio being too loud – you might have hearing problems. If you find yourself missing certain words, or looking at someone’s lips when they speak – you might have hearing problems. If you experience anything that makes you think you may suffer from hearing loss – just get it tested.
A hearing professional can examine your hearing to tell you if you have hearing loss, and if so, what kind of hearing loss you have. If you find out you have some hearing trouble, don’t panic – there are lots of ways to overcome this. Hearing aids work better than ever, and are practically invisible if you want them to be. Low frequency smoke detectors and other alarms can warn you during the night when you might not be wearing your hearing aid, so you can sleep safely.
Hearing loss can be a real problem, but there are real and effective solutions available. We recommend asking your doctor what assist tools are available, and then searching online to see what other neat tricks you can find. Make safety and enjoyment a priority, and use as many quality of life improvements you can get your hands on!