GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. - May has been designated "Better Hearing Month". Dr. Geddes from the Minnesota Academy of Audiology's Awareness committee spoke to KARE 11 News at 11 a.m. on prevention and diagnosis for all ages.

According to the National Institute of Health, 37.5 million Americans have difficulty hearing.

On a national level, 8.5 percent of adults aged 55-64, 25 percent aged 65 to 74 and 50 percent of those older than 75 years are suffering from disabling hearing loss.

Those in the Sandwich Generation may be in a unique situation where they are starting to have concerns about their own hearing but also helping their adult parents and family members navigate the challenges of hearing loss as well. Hearing loss is something that impacts both the individual who has it as well as the caregivers and loved ones working with them.

Children can be born with hearing loss but can also acquire it by causes such as noise exposure and ear infections. National Institutes of Health reports that 5 out of 6 children experience an ear infection by the time they are three years old. Hearing loss may be one of the early signs of a developing ear infection and is often the consequence of an ear infection.

Hearing protection is a very important topic both in children and adults. There has been increased risk for noise exposure in the younger population due to use of headphones and personal listening devices. Some people are also not aware of damage to hearing that can occur from lawn equipment or other recreational sources.

Damage already done to hearing from noise exposure and aging is permanent which means the focus on preventable hearing damage is that much more important. When using headphones it is a good idea to limit the volume.

Some signs that you may have been around sounds that are too loud:

  • Do others have to raise their voices to be heard by you
  • Do you have ringing or other noises in your ear after being around loud sounds
  • Does music sound a little strange after you listen to it for awhile
  • After being around loud sound to your ears sometimes feel full or stopped up?
  • After being around loud sound does it sound like people are talking to you through a pillow or underwater?
  • When listening to headphones, does the person next to you have to shout to be understood?

Hearing loss statistics:

  • 200-400 babies born in Minnesota each year have permanent childhood hearing loss (Minnesota Department of Health).
  • Approximately 15% of American adults (37.5 million) report difficulty hearing (National Institutes of Health).
  • About 28.8 million U.S. adults could benefit from using hearing aids (National Institutes of Health).
  • Hearing loss is largely under treated with less than 30% of those who could benefit from wearing hearing aids have used them (National Institutes of Health).

To find additional consumer resources and search for audiologist in your area, please go to the Minnesota Audiology website.