ANNISTON ARMY DEPOT, Ala. -- We all remember the Verizon Wireless commercial "Can You Hear Me Now?"

It was fairly effective, since we've all had cell phone calls suffer bad reception or ones where the call was dropped altogether.

It's frustrating to try to communicate with others and not be able to effectively hear what they are trying to say.

Just as poor cell phone reception is frustrating, losing your hearing is even more frustrating.

Exposure to high noise levels for extended periods of time will result in hearing loss.

You'll find parts of speech will become silent and it will be like listening to a call with bad reception, where you hear every third word.

Your hearing can enhance your quality of life and will be missed.

Unlike a cell phone call though, once you begin to lose your hearing you cannot move to a new location to get better reception.

Eventually, the "poor reception" can progress to "no reception," where you'll experience complete loss of hearing.

Hearing loss is a common health problem for many people.

Surveys conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics in 2017 show 14.4 percent of American adults age 18 and over report some trouble hearing.

Causes vary from ear infections, injury or trauma to the ear, exposure to certain chemicals, getting older and exposure to high noise.

While it can result from different causes; the main contributor is prolonged exposure to high noise levels or short levels of exceptionally loud noises.

Hearing loss is usually gradual and painless, so we don't realize the harm occurring until it's too late. Sadly, once hearing loss develops, it's a permanent condition with no cure.

The good news is that most hearing loss is preventable with a bit of effort on your part.

Ensure you have good reception for life and avoid individuals having to yell "Can You Hear Me Now?".

Control your exposure to loud noises by:

• Wearing hearing protection when working in areas designated by Industrial Hygiene as noisy areas or when working with loud equipment.

• Wearing the appropriate hearing protection designated for the area (i.e. ear plugs, ear muffs, or ear plugs and ear muffs).

• Understanding that earbuds and ear muffs with music offer no protection and often contribute to hearing loss.

• Making sure hearing protection is properly worn (i.e. ear muffs have a snug fit and ear plugs are properly inserted).

• Contacting Industrial Hygiene for a noise survey if a new process or piece of equipment which may produce increased noise levels is introduced to your work area. IH can be reached at Ext. 6865.

• Reducing the self-induced noise levels of radios, TVs, fire arms or other recreational means of exposure.

• Remembering this rule of thumb regarding noise -- if you can't communicate easily with someone standing three feet away without yelling, it is probably too loud.

Don't take your hearing for granted and assume that hearing loss is inevitable.

The amount of noise an individual is exposed to over their lifetime contributes to presbycusis, hearing loss due to aging.

Take steps today to prevent hearing loss and ensure those important sounds, such as the voices of those you love, are not lost forever.