Am I Going Deaf?

Katie Couric
Global Anchor
Katie's Take

Katie's Take

While hearing loss can be challenging and frustrating, it isn't really surprising in elderly people. But what if you're only 40?

Hearing loss in younger people is an increasingly common problem. In fact, sixty five percent of people under 65 experience it. I wanted to find out why and what can be done to prevent it, so I spoke to audiologist Dr. Craig Kasper.

I assumed that headphones were to blame, as we've become a nation of people with our own personal soundtrack blaring in our ears all day.
They turned out to be only partially to blame. Dr. Kasper told me that using headphones or earbuds alone isn't the real reason for hearing loss. It's not the proximity of the sound, it's the duration and volume. To truly prevent hearing loss, we need to touch that dial…and turn it down. If you're listening to your MP3 player at 80% volume, you should not exceed 90 minutes per day, but if you keep the volume at 60% or lower you can listen for much longer without damaging your hearing.

Here's another good test: If you're three feet away from someone and cannot hear him or her, you are in an environment that's too loud. Earplugs can save the day…and your hearing. They're made from wax or silicone, and you can get them for as little as five dollars at your local drugstore.

As I hadn't had a hearing test in years, I asked Dr. Kasper to perform one for me to see if I, too, am experiencing some hearing loss.  Luckily, my hearing is in the normal range. I hope to keep it that way by following his tips and getting my hearing tested each year as he recommends. If you find yourself asking "what?" every time someone asks you a question, you might want to head to your audiologist, as well!