MYTHS & FACTS What Do You Know About Hearing? - ClearSound Hearing NY

What Do You Know About Hearing?



When you have a hearing loss, it is easy to dismiss it as unimportant. You learn coping methods like turning up the TV or avoiding noisy restaurants or other situations, and you may not notice the small sounds that you once took for granted. Many people notice hearing birds again once they wear hearing aids. Proper hearing aid use brings improved quality of life, including a better outlook on mood, mobility, independence, communication, and social interaction.
A hearing professional can test your hearing, help you understand your unique type of hearing loss, and determine the best course of treatment that fits your long-term needs and lifestyle. Before you make an investment, visit a licensed hearing professional to find a device that will best suit your hearing needs, function properly, be trustworthy with your payment details, and adhere to refund policies.
Untreated hearing loss increases the risk of social isolation, depression, cognitive decline, dementia, and falls. It’s theorized that the “cognitive load” on the brain may take away resources the brain uses for other functions, such as short-term memory, and affects our ability of spatial awareness. Researchers cite treating hearing loss with hearing aids can alleviate symptoms of these conditions.1 According to research published in The Lancet (2020), several recommendations to reduce the risk of dementia were provided, including maintaining healthy blood pressure levels, reducing smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke, reducing obesity and diabetes, and encouraging the use of hearing aids. In fact, treating hearing loss through the use of hearing aids was the largest factor that protected participants from cognitive decline in The Lancet study of nearly 4,000 individuals over the age of 65.2

Hearing aids are medical devices and must undergo thorough research and development processes to be compatible with our complex ability to hear. However, there are many types of quality hearing aids at various price points that can fit your needs and your budget. There are also several ways you can find help with paying for hearing aids, including through most Medicare Advantage Plans (Part C), through foundations and local service organizations, and through healthcare financing plans. And if you are a veteran, check to see if you are eligible for hearing care.

Adults with untreated hearing loss generate 46% more in healthcare costs over 10 years than those with healthy hearing8. It pays to take care of your hearing as soon as you suspect a difficulty!

Hearing and vision are both major senses that connect us to the world. Hearing aids and eyeglasses are frequently compared as assistive devices; however, the two can hardly be compared. Eyeglasses are a mechanism to immediately assist the eye to focus and do not require vision training to wear them. Hearing aids are responsible for helping the brain perceive pitch, duration, loudness, timbre, sonic texture and spatial location of sounds. Sounds can tell us where things are, if something is moving, how far or near an object may be, and more. Sound waves travel through a medium, such as air or water, and are captured by our ears and perceived by our brain as a sound. Sound also gives us the ability to communicate and understand spoken language. With hearing aids, the brain needs time to adjust and relearn the sounds coming through the hearing device. Because of each individual’s unique ability to hear various frequencies, hearing aids need to be programmed to a patient’s hearing and may need fine-tuning by a hearing professional to offer the greatest benefit.
Hearing occurs in the brain. The pathway of sound waves in the ear to comprehension in the brain is quite complex. Hearing loss due to injury, illness, excessive sound, and aging affects our brain health and puts us at an increased risk of cognitive decline. It also affects our physical health by an increased risk of falls, and our mental health by an increased risk of depression and social isolation. Hearing loss is also connected to diabetes and heart disease, so it is important to understand the cause of your hearing loss.
There are many reasons why people live with untreated hearing loss, and four years is a long time to have to struggle with your hearing. Why do people wait that long? Hearing loss can be so gradual that it may be hard to notice at first. It also frequently starts with higher pitched sounds, which means some lower pitched sounds and voices may still be heard normally, creating the perception of normal hearing. Annual hearing testing may help those with hearing loss gain a quicker diagnosis, treatment, and benefit from hearing aids that come in a number of different colors and styles.
Many people assume hearing loss is age-related and it’s either something to be accepted or something to be ashamed of, but hearing loss does not discriminate. Hearing loss can be a result of exposure to loud noise, illness, medications, smoking, diabetes, aging or genetics. For those troubled with hearing loss in the US, approximately 62% are younger than 65. In fact, 1 in 6 baby boomers (ages 55-73), 1 in 14 Generation Xers (35-54), 1.4 million children (18 or younger), and 2-3 out of 1,000 infants have some form of hearing loss.4 The World Health Organization has warned that globally, 1.1 billion teenagers and young adults are at risk of hearing loss “due to the unsafe use of personal audio devices, including smartphones, and exposure to damaging levels of sound at noisy entertainment venues such as nightclubs, bars, and sporting events.”5 Like skin damage from sun exposure, the cumulative effect of today’s loud societies has led to a greater incidence of hearing loss. Noise exposure is the most preventable cause of hearing loss.
We live in a world where earbuds, AirPods, and other personal listening devices are commonplace. Most hearings aids today are small and discreet with nearly invisible tubing. And some closely resemble those common amplifiers that fit in your ear canal and can be completely invisible to someone looking at your ear! Many hearing aids are also equipped with apps that allow you to adjust the volume and settings via your smartphone. Check out the Hearing Aids 101 page to learn about the current styles and most recent technology.
Tiny hairs in the inner ear play a huge part in the hearing process. Located inside the cochlea, these hair cells rock back and forth with the vibration of a sound and turn the vibration into electrical signals that help our brain understand sound.6 These tiny hairs are fragile and once damaged, they cannot grow back. If sounds are too loud, then the hair cells become damaged and stop transmitting sound. Damage can occur by not protecting ears from excessive sound. Wearing ear protection while doing yard work, lowering the volume on headphones and sitting farther from sound amplifiers at concerts are all examples of self-protective measures.
The National Institute of Health (NIH) and the World Health Organization (WHO) considers sounds at or below 70 decibels (the volume of office noise, shower, or dishwasher) to be safe for human hearing. Any sounds above 85 decibels for an extended time can contribute to permanent noise-induced hearing loss. To put that into perspective, a hair dryer and a power lawnmower are around 90 decibels while an ambulance siren is 120 decibels and a jet engine is around 130 decibels. Regular and prolonged unprotected exposure above 85 decibels is considered hazardous. Noise-induced hearing loss can occur in everyday life, including work environments such as manufacturing, construction and any environment that uses heavy machinery. The louder the sound, the shorter the amount of time it takes for hearing loss to occur.
Here’s a little-known fact: specific medications can harm the ear, causing hearing loss, ringing in the ear, or balance problems. These medications are considered ototoxic. In fact, there are more than 200 identified ototoxic medications. To check on the side effects of your medication, go to

According to a 2011 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the prolonged use of headphones and earbuds has led to a major increase in the prevalence of hearing loss in adolescence and young adults. Having a sound projected directly into your ear canal can increase a sound’s volume by 6 to 9 decibels — enough to cause some serious problems. Not only can the inner ear be damaged by the loudness of noise, but it can also be damaged by the length of exposure. If the ear is not exposed to safe listening volumes or given enough time to recover between episodes of exposure, permanent damage will occur.

Furthermore, in one of the largest studies ever performed on hearing disorders affiliated with musicians, researchers discovered that musicians are 57% more likely to suffer from tinnitus—consistent ringing in the ears—as a result of their job.7 If you’re a musician, or if you participate in live events, safeguard your ears. Musicians can benefit from professional earplugs that provide safe listening and preserve sound quality.




2 Livingston, Gill. “Dementia Prevention, Intervention, and Care: 2020 Report of the Lancet Commission.” The Lancet, 14 Aug. 2020.

3 MarkeTrak 2022©, Hearing Industries Association (HIA). Confidential to HIA Members





8 “Patients with Untreated Hearing Loss Incur Higher Health Care Costs over-Time.” Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, 8 Nov. 2018