Annual checkups are an important way to protect your health. Just as regular mammograms, eye and dental checkups, colonoscopies, and prostrate health checks do, annual hearing tests can help spot potential health concerns early, often helping you to avoid bigger health issues down the road.
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), an estimated 48 million Americans have some form of hearing loss. The most common is presbycusis, or age related hearing loss. Presbycusis affects approximately one out of every three people over the age of 65. Almost half of people over the age of 75 have some degree of age-related hearing loss.
Hearing loss can also be caused by trauma, disease, chronic exposure to loud noises, autoimmune disorders, and neoplasms (cancerous or non-cancerous tumors or growths).
Why Annual Hearing Tests Are Important
Annual hearing exams can detect even minor hearing changes. It may seem odd; but, people can easily miss the signs of hearing loss because they tend to be gradual, as well as subtle. This is often due to the loss of tiny, sensitive hairs that line the inside of your inner ear, called stereocilia. These delicate structures are part of a fluid filled area deep inside your ear called the cochlea. Each ear has roughly 30,000 stereocilia, which pick up sound waves and vibrations from the outer ear, passing them along as nerve pulses to the brain via the auditory nerve.
If soundwaves are too loud, they can cause the fluid to move very forcefully, bending or breaking the sensory hairs. Any damaged stereocilia will eventually die, resulting in some degree of hearing loss. Over time, people tend to lose more and more of the hairs, and the body has no way to replace them. Because the outer hairs are most vulnerable they are often the first to go. These outer hairs are responsible for the higher tones or frequencies, causing a gradual loss of hearing.
Signs of hearing loss include:
- Difficulty hearing conversations on the phone
- Straining to hear conversations
- Ringing or buzzing in the ears (tinnitus)
- Having to ask people to repeat themselves
- Hearing that seems muffled
Although the risk of hearing loss does increase with age, the fact remains that it can strike at any age. Sometimes the cause of the hearing loss is known or quite obvious, and in some cases the cause is unknown. Untreated hearing loss can affect both your health and your overall quality of life. Not being able to hear clearly can cause you to withdraw from others. A hearing exam is both painless and simple. An annual hearing exam can help pinpoint areas of concern before they become worse.
If you have questions about hearing loss or are interested in being scheduled for a hearing exam, or need other treatment for ears, nose or throat related issues, please call Intercoastal Medical Group today at (941) 362-8662 for an appointment with one of our highly qualified, caring otorhinolaryngology (ENT) specialists, or request one online. Intercoastal Medical Group: dedicated to your wellbeing for life.