Do You Hear What I Hear? The
Sounds of the Holidays can help a person
recognize Hearing Loss
Newswise , December12, 2011 – Jingle bells,
carols, and holiday greetings are all the
sounds that help make the holiday season
special. But, those holiday sounds also give
people an opportunity to recognize if they
are having trouble hearing.
According to the National Institute on
Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD),
of the 36 million American adults who report
having a hearing loss, an estimated 26
million of them between the ages of 20 and
69 have a high-frequency hearing loss caused
by too much exposure to loud sound.
Noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) is usually
painless, progressive, permanent, and
completely preventable. NIHL happens when a
person is exposed for too long of a time to
sound pressure levels of 85 decibels or
more, resulting in damage to the sensory
hair cells of the inner ear.
It can be the result of exposing your ears
to a sudden, intense impulse noise like an
explosion or gunfire or extended or repeated
exposure to loud machinery and recreational
activities, such as loud music and video.
The process is so gradual that people often
do not realize they have a hearing loss
until it affects the ability to carry on
conversations in daily life. With NIHL
softer high frequency sounds are difficult
to hear, which means a person can hear what
is said but they cannot understand what is
How can people recognize if they have noise
induced hearing loss?
“When a person frequently has trouble
understanding conversations at holiday
parties, family gatherings, and in noisy
restaurants it might be a good time for a
hearing test and ear examination,” said John
W. House, MD, president of House Research
Institute and physician at the House Clinic.
“We recommend for people to pay close
attention to how well they can hear in
The holidays give family and friends the
opportunity to notice a change in a loved
one’s hearing as well. People with hearing
loss may have trouble participating in
conversations because they miss key words.
“We hear from our patients that they first
noticed a change in their hearing several
years before they finally come in to the
House Clinic to have their hearing checked,”
said Dr. House. “Often it is a spouse or
family member who urges a patient to get
their hearing tested.”
Physicians in the House Clinic recommend
patients come in for a hearing test at the
first sign of a change. There are some forms
of hearing loss, which are not
noise-induced, that can be treated with
surgery to restore the patient’s hearing.
The sooner a hearing loss is identified, the
sooner the patient can learn about the
treatment options that may help.
If you know someone who is having trouble
hearing, you can help give the gift of
hearing by encouraging them to schedule a
hearing test as well as by supporting the
research and education programs of the House
Research Institute to improve hearing loss
treatments and knowledge of hearing loss and
related disorders. For more information, log
In 2006, House Research Institute launched
the nation’s first NIHL prevention education
initiative focused on encouraging safe
hearing choices among teens and young
adults, called It’s How You Listen That
Counts®. To learn more, visitwww.earbud.org.