Pioneer Hearing Aid Center News

August 10, 2018


Swedish study finds improved hearing in older adults

Contributed by Debbie Clason, staff writer, Healthy Hearing

Older adults in Sweden are hearing better than they were more than four decades ago, according to a May 2018 study published in Age and Ageing. The H70 study, part of a large-scale investigation initiated in the 1970s designed to study the medical and social effects of aging, found that hearing among 70-year-old residents of Gothenburg, Sweden had improved significantly in the last 45 years -- especially among its men.

Sweden
A Swedish hearing loss study provides 
hope and insight.

The comparison study tested hearing acuity in approximately 1,135 residents of Gothenburg born in 1944 and compared the results to three previous studies of residents born in 1901, 1906 and 1922. In the most recent study, the prevalence of hearing loss declined from 53 to 28% for men and 37 to 23% for women.

Hearing conservation

While Swedish researchers don’t know why hearing has improved in this population, they speculate the decrease among the male participants may be due to a reduction in occupational noise exposure. Most age-related hearing loss, also known as presbycusis, is thought to be due to a lifetime exposure to a noisy environment. Men, especially those in this age group, have traditionally worked in occupations where noise levels exceeded current acceptable limits, such as in the mechanical and engineering industries. Hearing conservation programs were introduced in Sweden in the 1970s; however, the study’s authors caution further research is needed to determine possible reasons for this improvement.

Noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) is the most common form of sensorineural hearing loss -- and also the most preventable. Permanent damage to your hearing can occur when you’re exposed to noise levels over 85 decibels (dB) for an extended period of time or from a one-time exposure to a loud noise such as an explosion or gunshot. Hearing conservation can begin at any age, so follow these tips to reduce your risk from developing additional hearing loss due to NIHL:

  • If you’re still in the workplace and noise is a constant in your environment, talk to your supervisor about ways to decrease noise levels.
  • Keep the volume turned down on personal electronic devices, especially those you listen to through a headset or earphones. That goes for the volume on the television or car radio, too.
  • If you enjoy a hobby, such as car racing, music, or hunting, purchase the appropriate hearing protection and wear it. Insist that others in your family who enjoy similar noisy pastimes do the same.
  • If you know you’ll be attending an event where there will be lots of noise -- such as a sporting event, parade, or fireworks celebration -- invest in noise-canceling headphones or purchase inexpensive foam earplugs from the local drugstore.

First steps

While the results of this study provide a glimmer of hope, bear in mind that unlike the study population in Sweden, the prevalence of hearing loss in the United States is on the rise. Hearing loss doesn't discriminate based on age as it affects more younger Americans than ever before. What this study does offer is even more evidence that hearing loss is not inevitable. The best treatment for many is prevention. 

Keeping your hearing as healthy as possible begins by scheduling an appointment with a hearing healthcare professional for a baseline hearing evaluation. Results from this exam will be used to monitor your hearing health annually so that you can address any issues which may arise sooner rather than later.

July 13, 2018


What is a decibel?

The soft whisper of a grandchild sharing a secret, the loud blare of a fire truck's siren as it enters the intersection, the soothing melody of your favorite song on the radio. How do we measure the intensity of the sounds they make? Behold the humble decibel, a logarithmic way of describing a ratio between things like power, sound pressure and voltage.

Decibels measure sound intensity

decibels
Decibels express sound levels and 
represent a ratio.

Sound is energy that travels in waves and is measured in frequency and amplitude. Frequency, reported in Hertz (Hz), measures the number of sound vibrations in one second. Amplitude, reported on the decibel (dB) scale, measures its pressure or forcefulness. The more amplitude a sound has, the louder it is.

The logarithmic decibel scale measures differently than a linear scale. For example, every increase of 10 dB on the decibel scale is equal to a 10-fold increase in sound pressure level (SPL). Near silence is expressed as 0 dB but a sound measured at 10 dB is actually 10 times louder. If a sound is 20 dB, that's 100 times louder than near silence.

Decibels and hearing loss

Decibels might be just another measuring stick if it weren’t for the damaging effects loud noise inflicts on our hearing. Whether it’s a one-time exposure to a loud explosion or daily exposure to an excessively noisy workplace or hobby, our hearing suffers the consequences. This type of hearing loss is known as noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL).

The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) says everyone is susceptible to hearing damage as a result of noise exposure. They estimate approximately 15 percent of Americans between the ages of 20 and 69 have hearing loss that may have been caused by exposure to loud noise at work or through leisure activities. Results from a 2010 survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reveal as many as 16 percent of teens (age 12-19) report some hearing loss that may have been caused by exposure to loud noise.

Scientists have studied the effects of NIHL and, based on the levels of sounds in our environment, established recommendations for safe listening. How loud is too loud? The louder the sound, the shorter the amount of time it takes to damage hearing. Repeated or prolonged (more than 8 hours a day) exposure to noise louder than 85 dB can permanently damage hearing. And, in case you’re wondering what types of sound measures 85 dB, here is a short list of common sounds and how they measure up:

  • Normal conversation – 60 dB
  • Heavy city traffic – 85 dB
  • Lawn mower – 90 dB
  • MP3 player at maximum volume – 105 dB
  • Sirens – 120 dB
  • Concerts – 120 dB
  • Sporting events – 105 to 130 dB (depending upon the stadium)
  • Firearms – 150 dB

Here’s some good news. Hearing health professionals say noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) can be prevented if we pay attention to — and protect our ears from — the sounds around us. If you’re planning to attend a concert or sporting event or spend a lot of time woodworking, riding motorcycles or operating outdoor lawn equipment, you’ll be exposed to noise levels in excess of 85 dB. That’s when it’s a good idea to invest in some hearing protection.

  • Ear plugs are inexpensive and can be found at most drug stores, but may not be suitable for extremely noisy situations. Foam ear plugs are disposable and conform to the shape of your ear; rubber or silicone ear plugs are washable and reusable.
  • Custom ear molds may be desirable for musicians and other hobbyists. These can be ordered through a hearing healthcare professional.
  • Earmuffs fit over the entire outer ear and muffle or block noise completely. Most are adjustable and can be found in sporting goods stores on online.
  • Noise-cancelling headsets also muffle or block noise completely and are best for people who need to communicate (pilots, military personnel) while blocking outside noise.

If you’re unsure about what type of hearing protection is right for you, consult a hearing healthcare professional.

What do decibels mean to those with hearing loss?

Those who’ve already been diagnosed with hearing loss also need to be mindful of decibel levels in their environment. It’s all about protecting the hearing you have left.

  • Untreated hearing loss: if you’ve been diagnosed with mild hearing loss, conserve the hearing you have left by wearing appropriate hearing protection. Untreated hearing loss in individuals who’ve had normal hearing can lead to a variety of other health conditions, such as an increased risk for dementia and depression as well as communication problems at work and home. Be proactive in conserving your remaining sense of hearing and resolve to seek treatment if your condition worsens.
  • Hearing aid users: those who wear hearing aids should be mindful of dB levels in their environment, too. Hearing aids and other devices amplify sounds in the environment, so your remaining hearing is susceptible to noise-induced hearing loss just like everyone else’s. While it might be tempting to turn your devices off thinking that they will serve as protection, guess again. Most don’t fit snugly enough in the ear canal to block harmful sound and, when they are turned off, can prevent you from hearing desirable sounds — such as emergency vehicles, concert music, or the sporting announcer. Your best bet is to work with your hearing healthcare professional to identify the appropriate hearing protection for the type of activity you’ll be participating in or attending. Wearing the proper hearing protection will allow you to wear your hearing devices safely and still hear activity around you.
July 06, 2018


The link between hearing loss and high healthcare costs

People who wear hearing aids might be improving more than their hearing. They might also be in better health overall, according to a recent study.

hearing loss hospital
Hearing loss can increase your spending
on healthcare.

The study, published in April, used 2013-2014 data from a national survey to evaluate the use of hearing aids among 1,336 adults age 65 or older with self-reported hearing loss. Of those, 602 used hearing aids and 734 didn’t. The goal was to measure overall health care spending as well as the number of emergency department or office visits.

Hearing loss and hospitalization

According to the study, the use of hearing aids was associated with a 2 percent drop in visits to the emergency room and in hospitalizations. There was a 1.40-day increase in office visits, and nights in the hospital were reduced by 0.46 nights. Hearing aids increased total health care spending by $1,125 and out-of-pocket costs by $325, but decreased Medicare spending by $71.

The total annual out-of-pocket spending among older adults who used hearing aids was $534 higher than that of adults who didn’t use them. Of those with hearing aids, 98 percent had at least one office visit over a year, compared with 93 percent of those without hearing aids, and those adults with hearing aids had two additional office visits.

Elham Mahmoudi, Ph.D., of the University of Michigan, the corresponding author on the study, said their main finding was that while using hearing aids reduces the likelihood of emergency room visits and hospitalization, it also increases overall health care costs for users.

Because they relied on survey data, they didn’t have details on the types of emergency room visits or hospitalizations reported, Mahmoudi said, calling the study “a snapshot” of the use of health care services.

Unexpected findings

She said part of the results were unexpected. “I was actually hypothesizing lower health care costs, so that was surprising to see that their health care cost was higher.”

Using just one year’s worth of data is limiting, she said. “Hearing aids in general are expensive. The average cost of hearing aids is between $2,000 to $7,000. And using that data, we couldn’t identify the type of hearing aids that these people used. So it is possible that … the higher total health care costs were due to the higher costs of hearing aids.”

She suggested that if they followed the hearing aid wearers in the survey for a longer time, their health care costs would drop, since they’d be less likely to go to the emergency room or hospital.

Medicare and many private insurers don’t cover hearing aids, hearing exams or fittings. In the U.S., only 14 percent of adults age 50 or older with hearing issues use hearing aids, according to the study.

Hearing loss is the third most common chronic condition among older adults and is linked to a number of other medical and social problems, including hypertension and diabetes. The study found lower numbers of both conditions among those wearing hearing aids, suggesting hearing aid wearers might be in better health overall. Mahmoudi noted that other studies have shown hearing loss is associated with dementia and Alzheimer’s, and she said using hearing aids might help prevent those as well.

Advocacy for greater hearing aid accessibility

Mahmoudi said the authors are advocating for Medicare and insurers to cover hearing aids, believing it will reduce hospitalizations or emergency room visits.

But there are multiple factors in why people don’t use hearing aids, and the reasons why aren’t always clear. In the study, a higher percentage of hearing aid users were white, as opposed to Hispanic or African-American. Those using hearing aids were more likely to be fluent in English, have a college degree, and have a high income level; those who didn’t use hearing aids were less likely to be fluent in English or to have a high school diploma, and generally had lower income levels.

A higher percentage of people who lived in the South didn’t use hearing aids, compared to other regions. Mahmoudi suggested this could have to do with the lower rate of social services in certain states, or cultural issues. This study is the first step toward more detailed studies, she said.

One of their other studies, underway now, is to see why people don’t use hearing aids. “Financial barriers are a huge issue,” she said, adding that many people decide they don’t need hearing aids because of the price. Another of their studies is using insurer claims data over a longer period of time to track people with hearing loss and their health care use and costs.

There are only a handful of companies that supply hearing aids, she said. “The hope is if they’re pressured to bring their costs down to large insurance companies, like Medicare and other private insurance companies, the price should drop.”

Despite the cost, she encourages people to get their hearing checked regularly. “If people cannot hear, they cannot communicate well with their physicians, with their family members, with society as a whole.”

June 22, 2018


Why do my ears feel clogged?

There are times when you purposely plug your ears -- think fingers or earplugs -- and then there are, well, other times when your ears feel clogged for no good reason. Why is sound muffled when there doesn’t appear to be anything inside your ear canal? Here are four of the most common reasons why your ears might feel clogged.

Impacted earwax 

ears feel clogged
Find out why your ears feel clogged and
get relief!

Normally, earwax is the body’s way of protecting the ear. Its sticky consistency traps dirt and other pollutants, act as a lubricant, and because it naturally falls out of the ear canal on its own, serves as a natural self-cleaning agent. On occasion, however, it can become impacted and affect your ability to hear.

According to the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, the following symptoms indicate earwax is causing a problem:

  • A feeling that the ear is clogged
  • An earache
  • Partial hearing loss
  • Tinnitus, or ringing in the ear
  • Itching, odor or discharge
  • Coughing

The only way to know for sure -- and to remove the earwax safely -- is to see a physician or your hearing healthcare professional. Please note that it is never appropriate to try and remove the earwax yourself. Not only could you accidentally puncture your eardrum or push the earwax deeper into the canal and cause impaction, removing this natural protective lubricant can lead to the development of dry, itchy ears. It’s best to let a professional determine whether or not your ears need a more thorough cleaning beyond what you can safely do with a warm, soapy washcloth.

Fluid in the ear

Avid swimmers are likely too familiar with this painful condition; however, even non-swimmers can suffer from fluid in the ear, too. Fluid can develop in the ear for a couple of different reasons:

Ear infection -- children and adults who develop middle ear infections may experience a plugged ear sensation due to fluid build-up behind the eardrum. Although this condition usually clears on its own, it can be painful. It’s time to call a doctor if the pain is severe, you notice a fluid discharge or symptoms persist for more than a day. Children younger than six months should be seen immediately.

Swimming or bathing -- here’s another reason to appreciate earwax. It acts as a deterrent for water to enter the ear when you swim or bathe. Even so, there are times water can become trapped inside the Eustachian tubes from swimming, bathing or moist environments. If it does, try these simple techniques to encourage it to drain.

  • Tilt your head sideways and pull the earlobe gently.  
  • Use a warm compress. This helps open up the Eustachian tubes so water can drain naturally.
  • Yawn, chew or hold your nose and blow gently.

Sinus pressure

You may be familiar with stuffed nasal passages and facial tenderness brought about by sinus pressure, but did you know it can also cause temporary hearing loss? The sinus cavities, hollow spaces located in your bones near the nose and between the eyes, are also located beside the ear canal. When you experience an inflammation in your sinus cavities, it can cause your Eustachian tubes to swell. When that happens, the connection between the middle ear and throat is closed which puts pressure on the eardrum causing that clogged ear feeling -- or worse -- pain and hearing loss.

Fortunately, most hearing loss caused by sinusitis is temporary and hearing returns to normal once the sinus congestion clears. Even so, if you experience pain or sudden hearing loss due to sinus congestion, see your family doctor. They can determine the cause of your discomfort and prescribe medication to alleviate the pain and swelling.

Noise damage

Noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) is one of the most common types of sensorineural hearing loss. According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), as many as 40 million Americans have hearing loss in one or both ears which may have been caused by exposure to excessive noise over a long period of time or a one time exposure to an extremely loud noise, such as an explosion or blast.

If your ears feel clogged or you hear ringing in your ears (tinnitus) after an evening with friends at the club or an afternoon in a rowdy sports stadium, it’s likely due to excessive noise exposure. Although these symptoms typically clear within 48 hours, you can prevent permanent hearing loss by taking precautions the next time you know you’ll be in a noisy environment:

  • Wear earplugs or other hearing protective devices when you’re involved in an activity where sound measures more than 85 decibels (dB).
  • Turn down the volume on the television, car radio or any personal electronic device with which you use ear buds.
  • If you can’t protect your hearing from the noise or reduce the volume, move as far away from it as possible.

Before trouble starts...

Although we’ve covered four of the most common reasons you ears may feel clogged, it’s always wise to seek the advice of a hearing healthcare professional whenever you are having trouble hearing. Here’s a tip: find a clinic in your community and have your hearing evaluated before trouble starts. The baseline information the initial test provides will be a good benchmark for your medical team to use in an emergency situation and to monitor your hearing health.  

May 04, 2018


Why you don’t wear your hearing aids (and why you should)

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), only 20 percent of people who could benefit from hearing aids actually wear them. If you’ve taken the plunge and purchased hearing aids, congratulations! You’re part of an elite group. Do you wear them every day? Or do they spend more time in your nightstand than they do in your ears?

Why you don’t wear your hearing aids

why you don't wear your hearing aids
Too many hearing aids end up in your
nightstand where they cannot help you.

There are many people who’ve invested in hearing devices and yet, for a variety of reasons, aren’t using them as advised. Much like purchasing a gym membership, hearing aids only work if you use them. So why don’t you wear yours?

Poor fit

In order for any hearing aid to work properly, it has to fit well. When it doesn’t, it can be uncomfortable and ineffective. If you have a behind-the-ear model (BTE) which continually falls off your ear, the tubing that connects the aid to the earmold or tip may be too long. Earmolds which don’t fit properly can cause redness or sores in the ear, and nobody enjoys that. Poor fitting custom or in-the-ear (ITE) hearing aids can cause the same problems.

If your device doesn’t fit you correctly, talk to your hearing healthcare professional. They can make the adjustments necessary for your hearing devices to fit properly and comfortably. When they do, you’ll be a lot more likely to want to wear them.

Lack of confidence

Today’s hearing aid technology is wonderful as long as you know how to use it. If you’ve forgotten how to change the batteries or how to use the app on your smartphone to adjust the settings, give your hearing center a call. They work with these devices on a daily basis and are happy to provide the instruction you need to get the most from your devices -- no matter how many times you ask.

Lack of commitment

If you save your hearing aids for “special occasions,” such as church on Sunday or group functions with friends and family, chances are good you won’t hear as well as you want to. That’s because hearing is a brain activity. Depending upon the severity of your hearing loss and the amount of time you waited to get treatment, your brain needs time to make sense of the signals it's receiving from your inner ear. By wearing your hearing aids on a daily basis, you provide the consistency your brain needs to reacquaint itself to sounds it hasn’t heard in a while and acclimate to different listening environments. The daily habit also gives you the opportunity to get to know your hearing devices, which in turn builds the confidence you need to maximize their benefits.

No longer effective

If your hearing aids worked well in the beginning but no longer seem to help you hear well, it’s important to share that information with your hearing healthcare professional. Your hearing loss may have changed or your hearing aids may need a good cleaning. Whatever the reason, trust your hearing center staff to diagnose the source of the problem and correct it. The path to better hearing begins with open and honest dialogue with your hearing healthcare professional.

Why you should wear your hearing aids

Most likely, your hearing healthcare professional has already emphasized the importance wearing your hearing aids has on your overall health and quality of life. A recent worldwide study on hearing loss and hearing aids involving more than 120,000 individuals in Germany, France, UK, Italy, Switzerland and the United States confirms their claims. The study found eight out of ten users believe hearing aids have had a positive impact on their quality of life, including improved relationships at home and work and a better sense of safety and independence.

Your hearing aids can have the same impact on your life. It all begins when you take them out of storage and begin wearing them regularly.

Practice makes perfect

Wearing your hearing aids every day helps you become more familiar with the way they work and, more importantly, reacquaint your brain to all of the sounds it hasn’t been hearing. The result is a winning situation -- for you, your brain and your overall quality of life.

You’ve already made the investment

You wouldn’t buy a new car and let it sit in the garage, would you? Maximize your investment by wearing your aids daily with pride. With today’s technology, you can enjoy life in almost every listening situation -- from taking a quiet hike on your favorite trail to celebrating life’s achievements with your friends and family.

It’s not all about you

When you’re hearing your best, it’s easier for your family and friends to communicate with you. Untreated hearing loss and hearing aids that aren't worn cause hardship for those you love the most. Whatever the reason for not wearing your hearing aids, share them with your hearing healthcare professional. Don’t let your hearing loss interfere with your ability to enjoy all life has to offer, especially when you already have the solution.

April 13, 2018


Are your ears prepared for spring?

One look at the calendar tells us spring is upon us, even if the temperature outside suggests otherwise. For all of the joys spring brings us, from the first crocuses emerging to feeling the warmth of the sun on our skin for the first time in months, it also brings rain, erratic temperature shifts and seasonal allergies. All of which can play havoc with your ears and hearing.

Inner ear disturbances in spring

spring hearing aids
Spring brings new beginnings and also 
new challenges for hearing health.

The inner ear is filled with fluid, and that fluid is extremely sensitive to the sudden changes in barometric pressure that occur in springtime. When the barometric pressure drops rapidly, that means the pressure outside your ears goes down before the pressure inside your ears can acclimate. The result is a pressure imbalance, which can cause a sensation of fullness or popping in the ears. Seasonal allergies exacerbate the problem by causing a narrowing of the Eustachian tube, making equalization of pressure even more difficult.

Those with Meniere’s disease, in particular, can suffer greatly during spring weather changes. Normally fluids in the inner ear circulate; problems occur when the overproduction of fluid that characterizes Meniere’s disease actually backs up under the increased pressure and causes the endolymphatic chambers to bulge. The result is discomfort, fullness and pressure along with the potential of other unpleasant symptoms such as tinnitus and vertigo.

Seasonal allergies and hearing loss

Allergies are another unwanted accompaniment to spring. While most think of allergies as sneezing and sinus pressure, it is important to remember that the ears and sinuses are interconnected.

"People take it for granted that allergies cause sneezing in the nose and itching in the eyes. Yet they seem surprised to learn allergies inevitably affect their ears as well," said Dr. Ronna Fisher, Au.D.

According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation, seasonal allergies affect between 10 and 30 percent of adults in the U.S. and as many as 40 percent of children, which means as many as 60 million people in the U.S. suffer from not only sneezing, itchy eyes and sinus pressure, but ear pressure as well. The warm, wet weather of spring causes trees to produce more pollen. For those who are allergic, the immune system reacts by producing antibodies. Those antibodies release a substance called histamine, which leads to increased mucus production. Unfortunately allergies also cause swelling of the Eustachian tubes, meaning they don’t open as they should. This causes the Eustachian tubes to become clogged with the excess fluid and wax, and the result is a feeling of fullness and pressure in the ears that can negatively affect hearing.

Over-the-counter antihistamines or decongestants might also help relieve the problem of excess fluid if it is caused by allergies. Some other remedies that can reduce fluid build-up include exercising, eating a low sodium diet, or eating fruits and vegetables that act as diuretics; grapes, watermelon, celery, bell peppers and asparagus all offer health benefits that include reducing fluid retention.

Since continuous pressure in the middle ear could result in permanent hearing loss, if you are experiencing any changes in hearing be sure to see a hearing healthcare professional or otolaryngologist (ENT) to make sure the problem isn’t something more serious.

The excess fluid build-up as a result of allergies, barometric pressure changes or inner ear conditions can not only cause a feeling of fullness or pressure, but can also cause conductive hearing loss as a result of sound being prevented from traveling to the cochlea. Another risk of excessive fluid build-up when the Eustachian tubes aren’t functioning properly is ear infections; the increased fluid provides an ideal environment for bacteria to thrive.

Spring and hearing aids

Spring also brings challenges for those with hearing aids, as the rise in allergens and wet weather means paying closer attention to maintenance and upkeep of hearing devices. For example, increased allergens can clog microphone ports in hearing aids, so be sure to clean hearing aids regularly and replace covers of mic ports when necessary.

Along with allergens, spring is accompanied by heat, humidity, rain and extreme temperature changes. Moisture is the enemy of hearing aids, as it can build up in the tubing, damage the microphone and receiver and cause static. In addition, warm weather means more ear wax build-up, which can clog the sound openings. To make sure hearing aids stay working properly when the weather changes, be sure to wear a hat or use an umbrella when going out in the rain. You’ll also want to dry your hair and ears thoroughly after showering prior to putting in your hearing aids. Lastly, in addition to regular cleaning, use a hearing aid dehumidifier overnight or anytime your hearing aids are exposed to excess moisture.

If you suspect hearing loss, be sure to see a hearing healthcare professional if your hearing problems persist after the barrage of wet weather, sudden barometric changes and allergy season ends, so you can enjoy the beautiful sounds of springtime for years to come.

April 06, 2018


The push to end noise pollution for better health

Ridding the world of excessive noise isn’t an easy task, but it’s one Noise Free America: a Coalition to Promote Quiet is willing to tackle. Their mission is to raise awareness of the negative effects of noise pollution in order to reduce noise in our communities.

noise pollution
Noise pollution is present everywhere we
live, work and play.

Ted Rueter founded Noise Free America in 2001, when he was a professor at UCLA and living in Los Angeles. Today the organization has more than 50 local chapters in 25 states, each with the mission of educating the public about noise pollution.

Why does noise pollution matter?

Excessive noise causes hearing loss and negatively impacts health. Organizations such as the World Health Organization, American Speech-Language-Hearing Association and U.S. Census Bureau have identified noise pollution as a real and present danger to human health and well being. According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), as many as 26 million Americans have high frequency hearing loss likely caused by exposure to excessive noise.

In addition to hearing loss, excessive noise is linked to tinnitus, sleep deprivation, cardiovascular disease and an increased risk of mental illness. A recent scientific literature review published in European Cardiology Review concluded there is a connection between exposure to everyday transportation noise and high blood pressure. Further, it determined that noise pollution should be considered as a new risk factor for cardiovascular disease. A German study published in 2016 found depression and anxiety increased as annoyance from noise increased. 

Noise Free America believes the answer to this problem is for each state to adopt a comprehensive noise code which regulates the decibel (dB) levels on everything from noisy cars and lawn equipment to barking dogs, construction, trash removal and recreational vehicles. Their legislative agenda is outlined on the website.

Do your part

The effort to reduce noise pollution begins in local communities with residents who are committed to resolving the problem. Here’s how you can help:

  • Take action. Sign up to receive Noise Free America’s updates and alerts on fighting noise pollution. Volunteer to help with lobbying, research, fund raising or community outreach. Write your local, state and national representatives and ask them to support legislation for anti-noise ordinances. Join a local affiliate of Noise Free America or form one of your own. Donate to the cause. Information on all of these options is available on Noise Free America’s website.
  • Get educated. Download Noise Free America’s How To Fight Noise manual. The 67-page document identifies what noise pollution is and how it’s harmful to your health as well as provides information on how to start a local chapter, tips on how to fight noise in your community, quiet alternatives to common noise-making products you can use in your own home and suggestions on wording for petitions and letters to elected officials.
  • Be a good neighbor. Be mindful of the amount of noise your household contributes to neighborhood pollution. Monitor your use of outdoor lawn equipment and consider using quieter alternatives whenever possible. Talk to your family about acceptable times to play with loud toys or recreational vehicles to respect your neighbors’ peace and quiet. Work with your dogs to control excessive barking, if necessary.  
  • Protect yourself and your family. Noise induced hearing loss is permanent; however, it’s also the most preventable type of hearing loss. Wear earplugs or headphones when you know you’ll be in noisy environments such as sport stadiums or music concerts. Reduce the volume on your personal electronic devices, televisions and car radios. Most importantly, make hearing health a priority. Schedule regular hearing evaluations for the whole family and follow recommended treatment. When you model good hearing health habits, others notice. The example you set may be the catalyst for positive change in the fight against noise pollution in your community.
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