Noise-induced hearing loss is on the rise among adolescents in Burbank. It’s already one of the leading causes of hearing impairment in people of all ages but has become especially prevalent in younger people. Experts believe technology is to blame for this upward trend.
Noise-Induced Hearing Loss
Noise-induced hearing loss is the result of permanent damage to the hair cells in the cochlea that are responsible for processing sounds. Noise that exceeds 85 decibels (dB) can destroy these nerve cells; the louder the sound, the less permissible exposure time you have. At 85 dB hearing loss can occur after eight hours, but at 100 dB, it only takes 15 minutes.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 17 percent of adolescents aged 12 to 19 experience noise-induced hearing loss in one or both ears. Much of the blame can be traced to music and the popularity of earbuds. Streaming services make listening to music on the go much easier than before; there are no bulky boomboxes or Walkmans to carry around and it’s a lot more economical than buying CDs.
Kids who join band are more likely to experience hearing loss, as well – particularly if they play noisy instruments like drums. It’s important that music teachers provide hearing protection to students, so check with your child to make sure earplugs are provided.
Other activities that contribute to noise-induced hearing loss in adolescents include concerts, sporting events and recreational pursuits involving dirt bikes, jet skis, snowmobiles and other equipment with a noisy engine.
Prevention is Key
Stressing the importance of hearing protection now is the best way to prevent irreversible hearing damage in the future. You can’t turn back the hands of time and wish technology away, but you can encourage good listening habits. Your Burbank audiologist recommends instructing your teen to set the volume level at no more than 60 percent of maximum and to take frequent breaks so their ears can rest. If you can hear your kids’ music despite the fact that they are wearing earbuds, it’s too loud!
Make sure your kids wear earplugs any time they are going to participate in noisy activities. Regular foam earplugs are okay, but for better protection, custom molded plugs are the best way to go.
For more tips on protecting your adolescents’ hearing, talk to your audiologist in Burbank today.
People with hearing loss in Burbank face challenges in all aspects of their daily lives. For those in the workforce, performing routine tasks can be trying. Learn to be a better colleague by advocating for your hearing-impaired coworkers. It’s easier than you think.
Hearing Loss in the Workplace
Many people associate hearing loss with the elderly, but in reality, about 60 percent of people with a hearing disability are currently employed. In addition to the stressors typical with any job – tight deadlines, tyrannical bosses, disgruntled customers – these folks must overcome other obstacles to productivity, such as noise distractions and communication difficulties.
Whether you work directly with somebody who has hearing loss or only pass them occasionally in the hallway, there are steps you can take to make their work life easier. Simply making them feel included is a great start! You can raise awareness through onsite deaf awareness courses (available through many government and community organizations); these will help employees better understand the nature of hearing loss and is a great way to show support for your hearing-impaired coworker. They will feel like a valuable member of the organization.
Be sure your colleague with hearing loss has access to tools that will help him or her perform their job more easily. A quiet place to work that is free from distraction is a necessity. Background noise makes it very difficult for hearing impaired individuals to concentrate, so a cubicle in the middle of a crowded office will probably be detrimental to their success. Look for an unused private office or, at the very least, a corner spot with less traffic. Consider investing in Hearing Aid Compatible (HAC) or captioned telephones and assistive listening devices and provide written transcripts of meetings and company announcements to ensure they don’t miss out on any important information. Incorporate flashing lights into your emergency notification systems to complement audible alarms; most people with hearing loss have trouble with high frequencies.
Implementing a health benefits package that offers coverage for hearing aids and services such as vocational rehabilitation will also help offset the high costs associated with hearing loss.
When talking to your hearing-impaired colleague, look for a well-lit spot; maintain eye contact; don’t cover your mouth when speaking; and offer to repeat yourself if they are having trouble following along.
For more tips on helping out coworkers with hearing loss, speak to a Burbank audiologist today.
Airline travel doesn’t exactly rank up there on most people’s lists of favorite activities. Whether you’re flying out of Bob Hope Airport or LAX, you are going to have to contend with traffic on the way there, not to mention security checkpoints, overzealous TSA agents, cramped seating and the possibility of overbooked flights. It’s enough to have anybody seek out Greyhound tickets instead! But bus travel is no picnic either. Sometimes, you have little choice but to fly to your destination. If you have hearing loss in Burbank, that can be even more of a hassle.
Tips for Flying with Hearing Loss
Hearing loss presents challenges in your everyday life. Traveling only compounds that! While we can’t promise you a turbulence-free experience, the following tips should help ensure a smoother flight.
- Do some advance planning. Before you even pack your bags, make a list of everything you’ll need so you don’t overlook important items. People with hearing loss in Burbank should include hearing aids (naturally!) as well as accessories such as batteries, cleaning supplies and a travel/storage case. It’s a good idea to schedule a clean-and-check appointment with your audiologist before embarking to ensure your hearing aids are in good working order. We also suggest printing up all important information, such as itineraries, hotel reservations, etc. in case you get separated from traveling companions or experience language difficulties in a foreign country.
- Inform TSA about your hearing aids. You won’t have to remove your hearing aids when going through security checkpoints – x-ray equipment won’t damage them in any way – but letting TSA personnel know you are wearing hearing aids will reduce the chances of a hard-core pat-down. If you aren’t wearing your hearing aids when passing through the checkpoint, do not place them on the conveyor belt or inside plastic bins – doing so might cause static electricity to discharge, and this could damage your equipment.
- Take advantage hearing loops. More and more public facilities, including airports, are being outfitted with hearing loops – wire coils that transmit electromagnetic signals directly to your hearing aids. This allows you to hear more clearly over background noise, helping you to get from Point A to Point B more efficiently. To use the system, just turn on the “telecoil” setting on your hearing aids and you’ll be connected.
- Don’t stow hearing aids in the overhead bin. Your best chances of ensuring a smooth flight, other than avoiding the dreaded middle seat, are to wear your hearing aids the whole time. Don’t worry about turning off these electronic devices and stowing them away; hearing aids will not interfere with the airplane’s communications or controls. Putting them away increases your risk of missing important in-flight announcements or, worse yet, having them disappear.
- Know your rights. The Air Carrier Access Act of 1986 was passed to provide airline passengers with hearing loss special rights. These include the right to indicate your need for special assistance during the booking process, information that will be added to the passenger manifest and distributed to flight attendants and gate agents; the right to request disability seating, usually located in the front of the aircraft in order to ensure the flight attendants are visible; the right to pre-board; and the right to the same communication access as all other passengers. Exercising these rights will help make your travel experience less stressful.
For more information on traveling with hearing loss – whether by air, sea, rail or interstate – talk to your Burbank audiologist.
We are celebrating three years in Burbank! Will your ear be the 1000th ear to be fitted for a hearing aid?
Dr. Mary Frintner has more than 30 years of experience evaluating and treating hearing loss. She has served hearing impaired patients in the San Fernando Valley, San Gabriel Valley and the Greater Los Angeles communities since 2000.
Three years ago, we opened our office in Burbank and we’ve enjoyed every moment. We are so thankful for the way we’ve been embraced by the community and are proud that we have been able to help so many of you on your journey to better hearing. In only three years, we have helped more than 984 ears! Will yours be the 1000th ear to get a hearing aid?
As a thank you to our community, we are offering:
Special pricing on Oticon OpnTM hearing aids.
Plus receive additional incentives to donate your current hearing aids.
Offer valid for March 2019
While we’re talking about celebrations, we thought we’d leave you with a few tips on how to enjoy the party with those who have hearing loss.
- Keep the music low. While music adds to the party, but if it’s too noisy it can prove distracting to those with hearing loss.
- Include everybody in the conversation. Hearing-impaired guests may act quiet or appear uncomfortable. It’s not that they are antisocial; they may simply be feeling left out. Include them in the conversation as much as possible.
- Face the person when speaking. Many hard of hearing individuals rely on facial cues and/or lipreading in order to communicate. Face your guest when speaking so they can understand your words more easily.
- Speak slowly and clearly. Do not mumble and resist the urge to shout. Stick to simple words and phrases delivered in a normal tone of voice. Make sure to avoid speaking while eating and do not cover your mouth with a napkin or your hands.
- Rephrase rather than repeat. If you’re your friend with hearing loss is having trouble understanding, you’ll be tempted to repeat yourself (and will probably raise your voice to overcompensate). Try rephrasing instead, using a different word that conveys the same meaning. Often, a particular vowel or consonant causes trouble.
- Don’t hold a conversation from far away. Remaining in close proximity when conversing will ensure they understand what you are saying more easily and allows them to see your mouth and facial expressions.
Hearing loss is one of the most common physical health conditions in the U.S. Approximately one out of every five people in Burbank experiences hearing loss to some degree. Most of us are probably aware of the most common causes of hearing loss – but there are others that might surprise you.
Aging and Noise: The Most Common Causes of Hearing Loss
The top causes of hearing loss in Burbank are natural aging and noise exposure. By the age of 65, one-third of all Californians experiences hearing loss; at age 75, that number climbs to one-half. A lifetime of noise exposure takes its toll, gradually destroying the tiny hair cells in the cochlea responsible for hearing. High frequencies are affected first; as hearing loss progresses, it becomes increasingly difficult to follow conversations, especially when background noise is present.
Noise exposure can cause hearing loss at any age. Sounds exceeding 85 decibels can cause permanent hearing damage; the louder the sound, the quicker hearing loss develops. A single loud gunshot, for instance, can cause immediate, irreversible damage. Most adolescents and young adults with hearing loss can blame it on noise.
Those are the most common causes of hearing loss. But according to your Burbank audiologist, they aren’t the only ones.
Other Factors That Contribute to Hearing Loss
Individuals in Burbank are at risk of developing hearing loss from other factors, as well. These include:
- Medical conditions. Certain physical health conditions are associated with a higher incidence of hearing loss. Diabetes, for example, doubles your risk of hearing loss, and people with high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol levels and high fever are more likely to suffer from impaired hearing as a result of restricted blood and oxygen flow to the ear, which can permanently damage the hearing nerves.
- Everyday sounds. Your daily environment is full of potential risk from things you might not even give a second thought. Noisy traffic, with idling engines, horns and sirens, is a constant if you live or work near a busy street. Commuters who use public transportation to get to work must also deal with excessive noise from buses, trains and subways. Even household appliances can cause harm. Hair dryers, dishwashers, vacuum cleaners, garbage disposals and washers/dryers can all be surprisingly noisy. When shopping for appliances, look for decibel ratings of 85 dB or lower – information that should be available in the product manual or website.
- Music. Obviously, concerts are noisy – but you’re probably more likely to put your hearing at risk when listening to music through headphones or earbuds. To preserve your hearing, set the volume to no more than 60 percent of maximum and take frequent breaks to give your ears a rest. Consider investing in noise-cancelling headphones, which block external noise, so you won’t have to turn up the volume in order to hear your favorite jams. Fitness classes such as spinning and aerobics are often accompanied by loud music; toss a pair of earplugs into your gym bag to prevent damage to your ears.
- Health treatments. Treating a health condition may cause serious side effects like hearing loss. More than 200 medications have been shown to harm your ears, including many commonly-prescribed diuretics, antibiotics and chemotherapy drugs. Even over-the-counter pain relievers such as aspirin and ibuprofen can cause damage at high doses. If you’re displaying signs of hearing loss after taking a new medication, let your doctor know; alternative, less-risky drugs may be available. Other health problems such as ear infections, excess earwax and balance disorders can cause temporary or permanent hearing loss. Seek medical treatment at the first sign of trouble.