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Hearing loss more common than perceived

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news Brainerd, 56401
Brainerd Dispatch
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Brainerd MN 506 James St. / PO Box 974 56401

High frequency hearing loss is prevalent, Engelbrecht said. Especially for those whose hearing loss is due to noise exposure, age or family history.

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It’s caused by nerve damage to the inner ear and can’t be fixed. Most people don’t notice the loss right away because it’s very slow over a long period of time.

It’s because that hearing loss is so slow that many people don’t realize it until a family member or friend points it out (often many, many times), Engelbrecht said.

Often, it takes a lot of urging from those closest to the patient to go in for a hearing test.

Why? Because there are the stereotypes that go along with hearing loss. The biggest being that only the elderly face it. Contrary to that belief, even youngsters can, Engelbrecht said. Infants are now given a hearing screening.

Children who suffer from chronic ear infections are at higher risk for hearing loss, she added.

Continuing on later into life, a person can lose some hearing because of the noise they surround themselves with.

That’s why audiologists tell people to wear hearing protection when using the following: Lawn mowers, leaf blowers, chain saws, four-wheeler, motorcycles, race cars, construction equipment, machinery, fireworks and power tools.

In the Brainerd lakes area, where there’s plenty of industrial work, this is a common culprit for hearing loss, Engelbrecht said.

Even if loud machinery is being used for just a couple of seconds, it’s important to wear hearing protection, Engelbrecht said. Damage can happen instantly or over time.

Simple foam ear plugs will do, Engelbrecht said, but the best protection is ear muff style.

There’s an increasing problem among teens and young adults who listen to loud music, some professionals say.

A good rule of thumb while listening with headphones is that if the person next to you can hear the words of the song, it’s too loud.

When driving in the car, if your ears ring after turning the tunes off, it’s too loud. The same goes for after a concert.

If that ringing continues for a couple of days after, there could be done damage, Engelbrecht said.

Damage can sometimes correct itself over time, but if you keep up the loud habit, hearing loss will most likely continue to grow.

Contrary to popular belief, it’s not only senior citizens who start to lose hearing.

It can actually start very slowly in your 30s, continuing to your 50s to 70s when most people typically notice it, Engelbrecht said.

People often put off appointments because they’re in denial, Engelbrecht said. But once they’re inside the clinic doors, it’s not as bad as they’ve built up in their heads.

The test itself takes just a few minutes, but the appointment can take around 45 minutes total as the specialist will gather your information, concerns and then go over post-test recommendations.

The test starts once the patent is in the sound-proof booth and has ear muff style headphones on. Press the button when you hear the beep. Next, repeat the words you hear.

It’s that simple.

JESSIE PERRINE may be reached at jessica.perrine@brainerddispatch.com or 855-5859. Follow me on Twitter at www.twitter.com/brainerdnews.

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