Deep within your inner ear, tiny “hair cells” are dancing to the soundtrack of your life. Whether you’re listening to the quiet strains of a solo violin or the roar of a chainsaw, these microscopic bristles quiver, quake, and shimmy – and convert sound waves into electrical signals for your brain. But when they die off – the result of too many rock ‘n roll concerts in your younger days, too many lawns mowed without ear protection, even too many nights with a snoring bed partner – they’re gone. And so is some of your hearing.
A little hearing loss is inevitable as we grow older. By the time you’re in your twenties, you may have already lost the ability to detect extremely high-pitched sounds. In later years, as hair cells die a natural or unnatural death, you may have difficulty hearing lower tones as well. If you find yourself asking people to repeat themselves, frequently turn the volume up on the TV, or don’t always notice that the telephone is ringing, you’re in good company. Between 24 percent and 40 percent of adults over age 65 have difficulty hearing, as do up to half of people over age 75. By age 85, 30 percent are even deaf in one ear.
The truth is, some hearing loss can’t be stopped. And once it’s gone, you’ll need hearing aids to get it back. The good news is that much hearing loss can be avoided – and it’s never too late to preserve what you have.
If you’re planning to use all the strategies at your disposal to live a long, happy, healthy life – from eating well to exercising frequently, from socializing often to keeping your mind active with cultural and educational activities – you’ll need your ears. When University of Florida researchers checked the hearing and health of 152 people – ages 60 to 90, they found that those with more hearing problems were in poorer health. Other studies show that hearing loss contributes to feelings of depression, isolation, and anxiety, as well as no longer feeling in control or independent.
In contrast, a survey of 2,069 people with hearing problems and their families underscores how vitally important sharp hearing is for good health and a long life. Among those who made the decision to wear hearing aids, 71 percent said life was better. 35 percent felt more self-confident, 40 percent were involved in more social activities including sports and clubs, 53 percent had better relationships with grandkids and kids, 28 percent said their physical health improved, 35 percent were less dependent on others… and 13 percent said their sex lives improved.
As you can see by the numbers, good hearing is a vital part of living a long and healthy life. The key here is not to wait until you start losing your hearing later in life. You need to start NOW! At whatever age you are at. In my next blog post I will be revealing 14 ways to preserve your hearing. If you would like to get an email alert when the next blog post is up, click below to sign up for Email notifications.
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