WICHITA, Kan. (NBC News Channel) – March 3 is World Hearing Day, a day to bring awareness to the number of people living with unaddressed hearing loss and ear disease.
For the past year, our health has been thrust to the forefront as we analyze every cough, sniffle and headache but what about our ears?
“Hearing and listening are not the same thing,” Dr. Erika Woodson MD FACS – Neurotologist/Otologist with the Cleveland Clinic said.
It’s estimated that 15 percent of people over the age of 12 can have hearing loss in the United States, adding up to over 30 million people.
Early signs of hearing loss can be subtle; the TV turned up too loud, muffled noises and difficulty understanding.
While some hearing loss can’t be prevented, there are things you can do like limiting the amount of time you wear earbuds, air pods or a headset and the audio level of what you’re listening to.
“Turn down the volume and give your ears a break,” Kate Carr, president of The Hearing Industries Association said.
Hearing loss can affect your physical and mental health.
“I’ll tell people as if it’s heart healthy, it’s ear healthy because it’s been shown that many of the things which affect heart health like high blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes also influenced how much the ears age over time,” Dr. Woodson said.
Woodson adsd, people with greater degrees of hearing loss have higher risk of depression and anxiety because it is socially isolating.
Experts say most people don’t turn to hearing devices because it’s, on average, six years before they notice their hearing has diminished.
As tempting as it is to clean your ears with cotton swabs, doctors say – don’t. The wax build up acts a protective barrier.