If we’re lucky, we’ll live long enough to experience age-related hearing loss, also known as presbycusis. But what are we doing in the meantime to make sure that we’re hearing our best once we leave the workforce? Here are a few suggestions,
- Protect against noise-induced hearing loss
Sounds over 85 decibels (dB) are particularly harmful, especially if you’re exposed to them for more than 8 hours a day. Turn down the volume on your electronic devices, most especially anything you listen to through earphones. Limit your exposure to noisy environments — sports stadiums, concerts — and be intentional about moving away from loud noise you encounter accidentally.
- Find a hearing healthcare professional and get a baseline hearing evaluation.
If you don’t have a relationship with a hearing healthcare professional, now is the perfect time to establish one. Hearing evaluations are quick, easy and painless. The results will tell your provider how well you’re hearing now and provide the baseline they need to monitor changes in your hearing.
- Know your family’s hearing health history.
While some forms of hearing loss can be explained by noise and age-related conditions, others like otosclerosis, Usher’s Syndrome and Pendred Syndrome are hereditary. Sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL), the most common type of hearing loss, isn’t hereditary; however, if other family members have been diagnosed with SNHL it’s best to share this information with your hearing care professional, too. The more your clinician knows about your family’s hearing health, the better prepared they will be if you develop similar symptoms.
- Adopt a healthy lifestyle now.
Why? Because the health of your inner ear is directly related to the health of your circulatory system. Anything that interferes with your circulation — such as heart disease, smoking or obesity — can damage or kill the sensory hair cells in the cochlea. These hair cells are responsible for translating the noise your outer ear collects into electrical impulses for the brain to interpret as the daily sounds you recognize.
- Set aside money for hearing aid
While you’re working, consider saving for hearing devices. You may not need hearing aids for several years — or at all! Still, it’s nice to know the money is there should your audiologist determine you could benefit from wearing them.
- How much should you save?
The cost of hearing aids varies according to the severity of your hearing loss and your listening environments; however, plan to pay anywhere between $1,000 and $7,000 for each device.
Why invest in hearing aids? You may find this hard to believe, but this investment could actually save you money in the long run. Studies indicate those with untreated hearing loss have medical bills as much as 33 percent higher than those without hearing loss.