Perhaps you feel that, over the years, your hearing is no longer the same as always. Or that when they speak to him he cannot properly perceive the information that his interlocutor wants to convey to him, either because of the background noise or simply because he does not hear him well. If so, you could have hearing loss.
This occurs when the sound from the outside fails to enter the ear properly, either due to alterations in our organ or in the auditory nerve. As a consequence, the brain cannot correctly interpret the stimulus we are hearing.
There are many people who suffer from it. In the United States alone, nearly half of individuals over the age of 65 have some degree of hearing loss. In the world, the figure rises to 1.5 billion affected.
Hearing loss generates serious alterations in the communication of affected people, because it hinders the reception of oral messages or external sounds. In many cases, it reduces personal autonomy and affects the correct development of relationships of affection or social interactions.
Aging and loud noises
Due to cell damage accumulated throughout the life cycle, aging is one of the main factors that increase the chances of hearing loss. Other triggers are loud noises, heredity, some medications that are toxic to the ear, and diseases such as meningitis. All of them can damage the hair cells found in the cochlea, our main organ of hearing.
In addition, in recent times it has been observed that in large cities there are powerful noise emitters, such as road traffic or construction works, which can also have a negative impact.
Consequences of hearing loss
Hearing loss is associated with multiple unfavorable health conditions, such as depression, social isolation or cognitive impairment. It should be noted that it is the main risk factor for suffering from dementia in middle age.
In addition, it has been observed that it could be a physiological marker to detect frailty syndrome, a disease associated with mortality and disability in older adults.
Currently, age-related hearing loss has no cure; it can only partially improve the sound sensation of people who suffer from it. Among the best known treatments, we find hearing aids and cochlear implants. However, these electronic devices have two disadvantages: their high price and the sound quality they provide, which is different from that of a healthy ear.
In addition to the above, it has been observed in multiple investigations that the persistence of patients in the use of these devices leaves much to be desired, mainly due to their difficult handling, the price of the battery and the need to clean it and submit it to periodic calibrations. Hence the importance of prevention.
Adequate protection against high intensity noise, listening to music at a low volume or not using headphones can mitigate the impact of high sound pressure on the hearing system.
Lately great efforts have been made in this direction. For example, in Spain new public policies were implemented on the maximum levels and times that a worker can be exposed to noise, as well as plans to reduce noise pollution in cities.
With its research, the international scientific community has also revealed that certain healthy habits can keep our ears in shape. Among other things, incorporate foods such as fruits, vegetables, nuts and fish into our diet, in addition to doing without processed meats and salt. In addition, a diet rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids may reduce the risk of hearing loss in adults.
Other healthy habits with a positive impact include exercising regularly, avoiding excessive alcohol consumption, trying to sleep between seven and eight hours a day and maintaining behaviors that promote restful sleep. Also, as with chronic diseases, not smoking has been shown to reduce the chances of hearing loss.
The results of our studies and those of the rest of the scientific community suggest that we must substantially reduce exposure to high-intensity sounds, reduce noise pollution and maintain healthy lifestyles. Small changes in our habits can go a long way in preventing hearing loss in the future. (YO)