Take Simple Precautions to Protect Your Hearing

September 16, 2021

Few people think of hearing loss as a chronic health condition. Yet it is the third most common in the U.S. according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Nearly twice as many people report hearing loss each year as they do diabetes or cancer. That’s probably because the sounds that can damage your hearing are everywhere. We often expose ourselves with little thought to the damage we’re causing.

You gradually damage your hearing every time you mow your lawn without ear protection or crank up the music on your earbuds. It is possible your hearing may be damaged now, and you don’t even know it.

Hearing loss by the numbers

Around 40 million adults between the ages of 20 and 69 years old have noise-induced hearing loss according to the Hearing Loss Association of America. Nearly one in four people who report having excellent hearing have measurable hearing damage. More than half of those with hearing damage caused by noise don’t have noisy jobs.

It’s common for hearing loss to get progressively worse for years before it’s noticed, much less diagnosed. Often people delay telling their doctor about their concerns because they don’t want to admit they have a hearing problem. Only 46% of adults who reported trouble hearing saw a health care provider for hearing in the past five years.

Child hearing

How loud is too loud?

The loudness of a sound is measured in decibels and are indicated with a number followed by “dB.” For example, the noise of traffic outside your car is about 80dB. Hearing damage starts after extended unprotected exposure to sounds 85dB or higher.

Here are some common sounds that can cause permanent damage if heard without ear protection.

  • Leaf blower — two hours at 90dB
  • Sporting event — 14 minutes at 100dB
  • Rock concert — two minutes at 110dB
  • Siren — one minute at 120 dB

Woman hearing

Age-related hearing loss

You can damage your hearing at any age, yet most people associate hearing loss with getting older. Any hearing loss we’ve developed only gets worse the older we get. Age-related hearing loss typically affects both ears and can start as early as someone’s 30s or 40s. It also gets gradually worse as we get older.

Age-related hearing loss starts by affecting our ability to hear high-frequency sounds, like speech. You know someone is talking, but you can’t figure out what they’re saying because of background noise. As we get older, it affects more frequencies, and it becomes harder to tell where a sound is coming from.

Being unable to hear can affect the ability to communicate. It can contribute to social isolation, depression, and a loss of self-esteem. It can also be dangerous as it becomes difficult to hear car horns, smoke alarms, and other warning sounds.

Doctor and Oldman

Risk factors

Frequent exposure to sounds that exceed 85dB is the greatest risk that can lead to hearing loss. Working in a noisy environment should require the use of personal protective equipment. Other risk factors include.

  • Some medicine like aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen, diuretics, antibiotics, and cancer meds
  • Being male
  • Being over 40

Everyone can take steps to reduce their risk, however.

  • Avoid noisy places
  • Wear ear protection when near loud noises
  • Keep the volume down while listening to music or watching TV
  • Get a hearing checkup and ask your doctor how to protect your hearing

Don’t take hearing for granted

Having a relationship with a primary care doctor can help keep you healthy throughout your life. Your primary care doctor can also refer you to a specialist for additional care. AltaMed encourages everyone to make an appointment and start that journey to good health with someone who can get to know you and your health needs.

AltaMed doctors can provide you regular checkups and screenings, including hearing tests. Use our Find a Doctor tool to search based on your preferences. You can choose the gender you’re most comfortable with, preferred language, and the city. You’ll find great AltaMed doctors who can keep you and your whole family healthy.

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Grow Healthy at Every Age with Recommended Health Screenings for Seniors

March 18, 2021

Thanks in large part to improved medical care and changes in how most of us work, people are living longer. Someone born today is expected to live until they’re 77.8 years old.

How well you age depends largely on how well you live. A big part of that includes getting regular preventive health screenings for general physical health, cancer, and mental capacity.

 No matter how old you are, AltaMed can help you grow healthy with caring, attentive service and age-appropriate care. Read on to learn about the screenings and routine visits that are recommended for seniors. 

Hands senior screenings

Physical Screenings

Screenings can help you stay on top of chronic illnesses: if you do have a condition, it’s best to catch it early as treatment might not need to be as aggressive or invasive, and costs could be less. 

Recommended physical screenings include:

  • Blood pressure — Almost half of all adults have high blood pressure, so it’s important to have yours checked at least once a year (or as often as your doctor recommends).
  • Cholesterol — Many people are able to reduce their cholesterol with a healthy diet and exercise, but sometimes medication is needed. 
  • Obesity — Being obese is hard on the heart, liver, and joints and puts you at risk for serious conditions.
  • Blood glucose and Type 2 Diabetes — Medicare covers screenings in people with one or more risk factors.
  • Vision Your eyes change with age  and you run the risk of developing glaucoma, macular degeneration, dry eyes, and loss of peripheral vision.
  • Abdominal aortic aneurysm — This is a standard check of the heart for men 65 to 75, who have smoked.
  • Osteoporosis — Bone-density tests are covered once every two years for women over 65. Post-menopausal women younger than 65 should also be screened.
  • Hepatitis C — Medicare covers at least one screening for adults born specifically between 1945 and 1965.
  • HIV — Older adults at higher risk include people with multiple partners, men who have had sex with other men, and people with past and present injection drug use.
  • Other STIs — Sexually active adults at all ages should be screened regularly.

Cancer screening senior

Cancer screenings

Age is a leading risk factor in a number of cancer types, though it’s not really clear why. So, it’s incredibly important to get screened. A number of cancers are easily detectible and can be treated successfully if diagnosed early.

  • Colorectal cancer — Routine screening should start at 50 unless there is a family history. Then it should be earlier and more often. Otherwise, a colonoscopy is recommended every 10 years.
  • Breast cancer — Medicare covers screening mammograms every 12 months.
  • Cervical cancer — Older women who have never been screened should have a Pap smear at least once. Women at high risk should have one every 12 months. 
  • Lung cancer This screening is recommended for adults aged 55-80 who were heavy smokers (about 30-packs a year) or who quit in the last 15 years.
  • Prostate cancer — Men can choose between a digital rectal exam or a prostate-specific antigen test. Screenings are recommended between 55 and 69 years of age.

Doctor with tablet senior

Mental and safety screenings

When your AltaMed doctor asks questions about your life and what’s been on your mind, it’s not just to be polite: they may be looking for clues about your mood, mental state, and mental sharpness. These are delicate topics, but your answers can help identify:

  • Depression — The goal is to make sure you are not on a path that could lead to harming yourself or others. Therapy, medication, or a combination can help control depression.
  • Cognitive impairment — Cognitive Impairment is when a person has trouble remembering, learning new things, concentrating, or making decisions that affect their everyday life, and ranges from mild to severe. Doctors want to ensure you can still function in your current living situation. This may require input from a caregiver.
  • Falls and functional ability — Part of Medicare’s Annual Wellness Visit includes looking at the ability to manage the activities of daily living. Doctors will ask questions about mobility and the risk of falling which could lead to a traumatic brain injury (TBI) or breaking a hip, wrist, or some other joint. 
  • Substance use — Someone who has been drinkingsmoking or doing drugs their entire life will eventually pay the price for it. Answer honestly about alcohol, tobacco, and recreational drug use.

PACE Yourself with AltaMed

Making these screenings a regular part of your healthy habits could help you feel great and stay independent for longer. Talk to your doctor to get their personalized recommendations.

If you’re a caregiver or a senior with complex medical needs, AltaMed PACE offers coordinated care and services, including medical treatment, physical therapy, and social services. The program even offers meals, exercise, social activities, and transportation for qualified seniors. 

There are 11 AltaMed PACE facilities in the greater Los Angeles area including two new locations in Orange County:

Anaheim
1325 N. Anaheim Blvd., Suite 100
Anaheim, California 92801

Santa Ana
3601 W. Sunflower Ave., Suite 100
Santa Ana, California 92704

AltaMed PACE has made a difference for seniors like Antonio, Kenneth, and Rodolfo and Bertha – it may be right for you, too. 

For more information about services or eligibility, visit AltaMed.org/PACE or call (855) 252-PACE (7223).

Adolescent and Teen Physicals during a Pandemic

March 17, 2021

As parents know all too well, adolescent and teen bodies undergo many changes as they grow into early adulthood. From hormonal shifts that can affect their moods to growth spurts leaving closets full of outgrown clothes, this time in your child’s life can keep parents on their toes. It’s all part of a normal developmental phase and it is important to make sure your child is growing healthy.

As we approach the one-year mark of our fight against COVID-19, many teens and adolescents have gone without their regular pediatrician visits and checkups due to concerns around coronavirus. However, parents should still schedule regular physical examinations, including well-child visits, immunizations, and oral health care appointments. AltaMed is taking necessary COVID-19 precautions to help keep families safe during this time.

Doctor with clipboard
Pediatricians can help with a wide variety of health concerns. When necessary, they can also refer patients to a specialist.

Start with a Pediatrician Visit

Even through the teenage years and into the early twenties, your kids’ bodies and brains are changing. Regular and routine exams can help them grow healthy into adulthood. Our pediatricians will take good care of your kids (up until age 21) by reviewing their available health history, looking for early signs of health risks, and making sure they’re getting age-appropriate care. They can also help monitor all of the things listed below.

Fruite adolescent physicals
A well-balanced diet is an essential part of adolescent health. Doctors can make recommendations about what foods children should eat or avoid. 

Weight and Nutrition 

Even before the pandemic, childhood obesity was a growing problem, and it can have lasting physical and emotional effects. Regular physical examinations give your doctor the chance to monitor weight and BMI (body mass index), and open a dialogue about nutrition and exercise that can help your child develop healthy habits for life.​

Woman pointing adolescent
Ask your doctor what vaccines children should be receiving. As they age, kids will become eligible for a variety of important immunizations.

​Vaccinations 

Despite all the focus on the coronavirus, other viruses and diseases have not taken a break. Teens and adolescents still need their routine, age-appropriate immunizations. This year, it’s more important than ever that every member of your family gets their flu shot. Your teen or adolescent may need other routine vaccines to protect against:

Talk to your doctor to find out about “makeup” Tdap shots to protect against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis. 

Woman on couch
​A large number of adolescents struggle mental health disorders, including anxiety and depression. If you suspect your child is suffering, don’t wait to speak with a professional.

Mental Health

This is a stressful time for everyone, your teen included. With many of the support systems they’ve come to rely on like sports, the arts, or a worship community drastically changing or no longer available, teens can have a difficult time coping and their mental health may be suffering. Depression and anxiety are common, even pre-pandemic.

Half of all mental health disorders start by age 14 yet many go unrecognized or untreated, and even more concerning, suicide is one of the leading causes of death among teens. 

In this new environment, a routine physical exam is a window of opportunity where a doctor can check in with your teen and ensure they are adapting to stressors and a largely changing environment in a healthy way. 

Taking Control of Their Own Health

As they grow, teens and adolescents have their own questions about their bodies, and the routine physical checkup provides a perfect opportunity for them get answers and start to take ownership for their own health and well-being.

Boy with mask adolescen
Letting your child take an active role in their healthcare will help them build good habits for the future.

This is an important life skill that can lead to a healthy, lifelong curiosity and proactivity around their health. 

​As a parent, you know your child’s health needs are constantly growing and evolving, just like they are. Make sure your child is scheduled to have their regular physical examinations and have the peace of mind knowing AltaMed is here to safely monitor their development and nurture a positive relationship between your teen and their ever-changing health needs. 

For more information about services or to schedule your appointment (888) 499-9303.