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KCDHH raising awareness of risks of hearing loss during National Protect Your Hearing Month

During this year’s National Protect Your Hearing Month — observed each October — learn how to protect yourself and your loved ones from noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) and help the Kentucky Commission on the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (KCDHH) spread the word to others.

“Noise-induced hearing loss is preventable, so please take a few minutes to learn about the dangers of loud noises to your hearing and how you can protect yourself and your family. I also urge parents to monitor their children’s exposure to loud noises, especially from using earbuds at unsafe volumes,” said Gov. Andy Beshear.

According to the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA), 12.5% of children between 6 and 19 years of age have hearing loss as a result of listening to loud music, particularly through earbuds at unsafe volumes.

(KyForward file)

“It is important to address hearing loss early as it negatively affects people of all ages when left unaddressed,” said Virginia L. Moore, KCDHH executive director. “If you suspect that you or someone you love has a hearing loss, we urge you to get screened. KCDHH is here to help you navigate the many services and resources that are available to you.”

NIHL occurs when noise damages tiny hair cells within the cochlea — the small, snail-shaped organ for hearing in the inner ear. When hair cells are damaged, they can’t send information about sound to the brain. Since people can’t grow new hair cells to replace damaged ones, hearing loss from noise is permanent.

Noise is considered dangerous if you have to shout over background noise to be heard, it is painful to your ears, it makes your ears ring during and after exposure or if you have decreased or “muffled” hearing for several hours after exposure.
People of all ages can develop NIHL.

According to HLAA, an estimated one in five American teens experiences some type of hearing loss, 33 percent of all Americans over the age of 65 have a hearing loss and the number one war wound for American veterans is hearing loss.

Hearing loss from noise may not be obvious at first, but symptoms can build over time. NIHL can make it difficult to communicate with others and to appreciate the sounds of everyday living, such as chirping birds or a crackling fire.

If you take precautions, you can help prevent NIHL by making these simple lifestyle changes:

• Keep the volume low on music systems, smartphones, tablets, computers and TVs, and set maximum volume levels on devices used by children and teens.

• Avoid or limit exposure to excessively loud sounds.

• Move from the source of loud sounds when possible.

• Be aware and limit noisy environments such as concerts, playing in a band, target shooting and hunting, as well as using lawnmowers, leaf blowers and woodworking tools.

• Use hearing protection devices such as earplugs when it is not feasible to avoid exposure to loud sounds or reduce them to a safe level.

• If you’re a parent, carry hearing protection for your little ones and be a hearing health role model by wearing them yourself.

KCDHH encourages everyone to learn to recognize the signs of hearing loss, and if a hearing loss is suspected, have an evaluation by a licensed audiologist or other qualified professional.

Here are a few of the signs of hearing loss:

• Misunderstanding people;
• Asking people to repeat themselves;
• Difficulty understanding someone on the telephone;
• Speaking loudly; and
• Increasing the radio or television volume.

KCDHH, established in 1982, exists to serve the nearly 700,000 Kentuckians with a hearing loss and can put you in touch with appropriate resources and services to help minimize the negative impact hearing loss may have on your life. Books and videos on topics ranging from coping with a hearing loss to assistive devices, legal rights and parenting a child with a hearing loss are available through the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Resource Library.

For more information, contact KCDHH by calling 502-573-2604 (V/TTY), 502-415-0607 (VP) or email kcdhh@kcdhh.ky.gov. Visit KCDHH at www.kcdhh.ky.gov.

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