Thanks to Congressional action in 1994, June is officially Men’s Health Month. Actually, the original legislation — first sponsored by then-Senator and later Republican presidential candidate Bob Dole — proclaimed June 12 to 19 National Men’s Health Week. Inflation ensued and now it’s a whole month.
The purpose is to encourage men to realize “… the value that preventive health can play in prolonging their lifespan and their role as a productive family member [and] be more likely to participate in health screenings.”
And in the specific realm of hearing health, men do have some areas of concern to keep in mind.
The fact is, according to the National Institute on Deafness and other Communication Disorders, men are twice as likely to have hearing loss issues than women. And less likely to seek treatment.
The disparity is not fully understood, though the greater percentage of men having industrial jobs in sectors like construction and the military is thought to play a role in this statistical reality. The fact that men hunt with firearms at a much higher rate is probably also a factor. The best solution to these realities is to embrace the use of hearing protection, since long-term exposure to high-decibel sound environments is one of the surest ways to develop hearing issues.
Unfortunately, there is also some evidence that the regular use of many analgesics — common pain relievers like aspirin, acetaminophen, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) — can also be a risk factor for hearing loss in men (especially so in younger men). The cause is not clear, but just in cast try not to get in the habit of just taking pain relievers when not really needed.
Diabetes is also a risk factor, doubling one’s chances of developing hearing loss. And the rate of diabetes is slightly higher for men than women.
Finally, hearing loss is not an isolated condition. It is tied to an increased risk of depression and cognitive decline.
So, this June is the perfect time to think about making some lifestyle changes to protect your hearing or visiting a hearing health professional for a checkup.