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Should Hearing Tests Be Mandatory?

Do you know how often you should be getting your hearing tested, particularly once you are over the age of 55? A February 2020 study of 2,000 UK adults found that those over the age of 55 believed they should have their hearing checked every three years, yet the average amount of time since they last had their hearing tested was nine years.
The reality—based on recommendations from audiologists—is that adults over the age of 55 should have their hearing tested every year. In fact, the British and Irish Hearing Instrument Manufacturers Association (BIHIMA) is calling for mandatory annual hearing tests for adults aged 55+.
While regular hearing tests are important at all ages, they become even more important as you age. Age-related hearing loss is one of the most common conditions affecting older adults. Approximately one in three people in the United States between the ages of 65 and 74 has hearing loss, and nearly half of adults over the age of 75 have difficulty hearing. This means that as you approach the age where hearing loss commonly occurs, it is essential to have your hearing regularly tested so you can receive the treatment you need.
Some audiologists believe that even 55 is too late to start annual hearing testing. Almost 30% of British and Irish audiologists surveyed by BIHIMA in December 2020 said that they recommended adults begin annual hearing tests before the age of 55. Regular hearing tests are important because your hearing affects your daily life—including your personal relationships, social life, career, and simple joys of life like listening to music or the sounds of nature. In addition, untreated hearing loss has been linked to a greater risk of other serious conditions, including depression, social isolation and loneliness, anxiety, falls, and dementia.
To avoid these consequences, it is essential that you get your hearing tested regularly. If hearing loss is detected, follow your hearing professional’s recommendations for treatment, like using hearing aids. And if you are prescribed hearing aids, use them!
Based on the studies and work done by the British and Irish Hearing Instrument Manufacturers Association, annual hearing tests over the age of 55 might become mandatory in the near future in the United Kingdom. Although it doesn’t look like annual hearing tests will become mandatory in the United States in the immediate future, these annual hearing check-ups are still critical.
In the end, taking care of your hearing should be just as important and routine as other types of health care—like your regular dental visits and vision check-ups. You go to the dentist twice a year and the optometrist once a year (or once every two years before the age of 60). So, add in an annual hearing test! Your health, your relationships, and your quality of life will thank you.
To learn more about the necessity of regular hearing tests and to schedule your next hearing test, we welcome you to contact our office today. We are eager to assist you.

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Is One of Your Goals in the New Year to Exercise More? Well, There is a Link Between Exercise and Hearing Loss

It’s December and 2022 is right around the corner. Have you started thinking about your new year’s resolutions yet? In 2020, the most common resolution was to exercise more. (This same resolution was made by 46 percent of those who made new year’s resolutions!) If exercising more is one of your new year’s resolutions for 2022, good for you! However, it is important to be aware that exercise is linked to hearing loss. Don’t worry too much though—you can exercise in safe ways that protect your hearing and keep you fit.
How are exercise and hearing loss connected?
Anyone who has stepped foot inside a gym knows it isn’t the quietest environment. You might hear the sound of dropped weights, the noise created by machines like ellipticals and treadmills, or the incredibly loud music being blasted by an exercise class like Zumba. Add on top some conversations and the fact that most gyms play music over the speaker system, and you have one noisy place.
Exercise is linked to noise-induced hearing loss due to these very sounds. Audiologists have compared the potential noise of a dropped or smashed weight to the hearing danger posed by a shotgun blast or airbag deployment. Put that noise on repeat for 30-60 minutes, 3-5 times a week, and you have a recipe for noise-induced hearing loss. Furthermore, many exercise classes blast music at levels that are way above normal, safe volumes—often reaching 90-100 dB. If you have ever left the gym with ringing ears or muffled hearing, you have experienced damage to your hearing due to excessive noise.
Another risk to your hearing is lurking in the weight room. Heavy exertion, like straining when lifting weights, results in intracranial pressure (pressure in the brain). This translates to pressure in the ears. If you hold your breath while lifting, this increases the pressure even more.
This increased pressure in the inner ear can lead to a perilymphatic fistula (PLF), which is basically a small tear or defect in the thin membrane between the inner ear and middle ear. In most cases, people with a PLF are not immediately aware. Hearing changes typically occur later, when the strain of subsequent workouts causes fluid to leak into the middle ear through the tear. Symptoms of a perilymphatic tear include dizziness, fullness in the ears, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), or sensitivity to normal noises.
How can you safely exercise while protecting your hearing?
There are a few simple tips you can follow to protect your hearing while you exercise:

  1. If you strain while lifting weights, reduce the weight you are lifting.
  2. Never hold your breath while lifting weights.
  3. Wear earplugs while exercising.
  4. Keep your headphones or music at a reasonable volume.
  5. If you attend a gym or exercise class with music that is too loud, ask the instructor to lower the volume.
  6. Do not drop or bang weights while lifting.
  7. Do not participate in sports that can result in blows to the head.
  8. If you have hearing loss, wear your hearing aids while exercising.

Of course, you can also choose forms of exercise that are gentle on the ears, like yoga, dancing, nature walks, hikes, and more.
If you notice any symptoms of hearing loss or hearing changes after exercising, do not hesitate to contact your hearing professional. To learn more about how you can safely exercise while protecting your hearing, please contact our office today.