The increase in traffic, more powerful home entertainment systems, louder cinema experiences, jet engines and powerful machinery are contributing to a noisier world. This increase has contributed to the number of Americans that are either deaf or hard of hearing which stands at over 28 million.

Luckily, many forms of hearing loss can be delayed or completely prevented. Advancements in hearing aid technology and the medical treatments for hearing loss allow many more people to keep their hearing.

Hearing loss is no longer reserved for the elderly as more young people are being exposed to dangerous sound levels. Roughly 10 million Americans have irreversible damage to their ears from dangerous noise levels and 30 million are exposed to damaging levels on a daily basis.

Men and women aged 45 ? 64 suffer the most hearing loss with 365% decline in the hearing in men and 85% in women. Hearing loss from noise and ear infections, especially middle ear infections in the young is preventable.

Hearing tests are recommended straight after birth and at regular intervals throughout life. Now it is possible to diagnose any problems with a newborn baby's hearing using otoacoustic emissions. The first six months of a baby's life are important for developing its language skills and it is very important to make sure that it can make the most of this time.

Sound is collected by our outer ears and causes the ear drum and the tiny bones of the inner ear to vibrate. Hearing occurs because nerves transport electrical signals to the brain from cells that vibrate inside the cochlea. These cells cannot grow back if they are damaged.

Someone who has been exposed to dangerously high levels of noise can end up with a constant high pitched ringing noise in their one or both of their ears known as tinnitus. It is estimated that 40 million Americans have some form of tinnitus, but thankfully the majority can learn to live with it.

Tinnitus can be the mild cases where the person can quite easily be lulled off to sleep by the sounds. However, for others, it can mean a life of real discomfort. There is no outright cure for tinnitus but 80% of the 10 million with severe cases are able to get some form of relief.

The actor William Shatner who starred as Captain James T Kirk in Star Trek was tormented by tinnitus and even considered suicide. He thinks that the explosions used in the making of the television series may have been the cause of the problem.

There are ways to protect your hearing. A great way to protect your ears is wearing earplugs. Prolonged exposure to sound above 90 decibels from machinery such as lawnmowers and drills can cause temporary hearing loss. Unless protection is worn the sound from some work machinery can cause damage to a persons hearing in 15 minutes if the sound is over 100 decibels. Anything above 110 decibels can cause permanent hearing loss and industrial machinery and most music concerts typically exceed this level.

Your hearing can be seriously damaged by infections if treatment is delayed. Ear infections are not necessarily accompanied by swelling or pain. Sometimes the only noticeable symptom is a loss of hearing. Any hearing loss should be followed up with a visit to the doctor and a hearing test should be booked.

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