We have known for years that loud noises damage our hearing. Now a new study by the University of Leicester sheds more light on how this happens. This is a path-breaking study as it will help us in understanding the connection and therefore come up with new treatments and strategies for prevention of hearing loss.
The World Health Organisation has identified irreversible hearing loss as a growing global problem, with 10% of the world’s population being subject to sound levels that can cause noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL). In the UK more than 10 million people have some level of hearing impairment and the number is expected to rise to 14.5 million by 2031. The research conducted by the University of Leicester shows the exact impact that noise has on your hearing. Loud noise can damage the myelin sheath that protects and insulates the nerve fibres in your ear. This disrupts the transmission of sound from the ear to the brain, leading to hearing loss of varying degrees. Medical research can now target myelin and come up with ways to promote its repair, which could be an effective way to treat NIHL.
Of course, protecting your ears is the first line of defence when it comes to dealing with hearing loss, as prevention is better than cure! NIHL can be due to excessive noise at work or at a social level. Using noise-cancelling headphones or earplugs is the easiest way of protecting your ears against the relentless assault of noise. Keep the volume of your TV, radio or portable music device to a low level, especially if you’re listening to it through earphones. Remember that once the damage to your hearing is done, there is no cure – at least as of now.
Apart from protecting your ears, it is also important that you get your hearing tested regularly. Hearing loss is not an overnight affliction and your hearing deteriorates slowly over time – often without you realising it. Regular hearing tests can detect any anomalies and help you take corrective action earlier, so that further deterioration can be halted. At Leightons Hearing Care, we offer a Free Hearing Test and Assessment, which is 60-90 minutes long and includes a full-fledged lifestyle consultation, an otoscopic examination, an audiogram and a hearing health report. You can also choose to take the hearing test in the comfort of your home.