Hearing loss is not always inevitable, although it is common. As they grow older, the vast majority of people will begin to recognize a change in their ability to hear. After listening to sound for many years, you will notice even small changes in your ability to hear. The extent of the loss and how quickly it progresses is best managed with prevention, as is true with most things in life. Your hearing can be impacted later on in life by the things you decide to do now. It’s never too early to start or too late to care when it comes to hearing health. You want to keep your hearing from getting worse, but what can be done?
Learn About Your Hearing Loss
Understanding how the ears work is step one to understanding what causes most hearing loss. Age-related hearing loss, known medically as presbycusis, impacts one in three people in this country from 64 to 74. It is a cumulation of damage to the ears over time. Presbycusis is slight at first and then gets worse over time.
Sound waves reach the inner ear only after being amplified a few times by the ear canal. Sound waves vibrate very little hairs that bump into chemical releasing structures. These chemicals are transformed into electrical signals which the brain interprets as sound.
All of this rumbling eventually causes the hairs to start to break down and misfunction. These hair cells won’t repair themselves, either, so once gone, they’re gone. The sound is not translated into a signal that the brain can understand without those little vibrating hairs.
What’s behind this hair cell damage? There are many contributing variables like normal aging. How powerful a sound wave is, is generally known as “volume”. More damage is done to the hair cells if they receive stronger sound waves, and that means a higher volume of sound.
Loud noise is surely a factor but there are others too. Also, diabetes, high blood pressure, and other chronic ailments will have a strong effect.
Protecting Your Hearing
Taking care of your ears over time is dependent on good hearing hygiene. At the heart of the issue is volume. When sound is at a higher volume or decibel level, it is significantly more detrimental to the ears. You might think that it takes a very high volume to cause injury, but it doesn’t. A noise is too loud if you have to raise your voice to talk over it.
Your hearing can be impacted later on by even a couple of loud minutes and even more so by frequent exposure. The good news is protecting your hearing from expected loud noises is pretty easy. Wear hearing protection when you:
- Do something where the noise is loud.
- Run power equipment
- Go to a performance
- Ride a motorcycle
Headphones, earbuds, and other accessories designed to isolate and amplify sound should be avoided. The old-fashioned way is a much safer way to partake of music and that means at a reduced volume.
Control The Noise Around You
Enough noise can be produced, even by every-day household sounds, to become a hearing threat over time. Today, appliances and other home devices have noise ratings. The lower the rating the better.
Don’t worry about speaking up if the noise is too loud when you are at a restaurant or party. A restaurant manager might be willing to turn the background music down for you or possibly move you to another table away from loud speakers or clanging dishes.
Be Noise Conscious When You Are at Work
Take steps to protect your hearing if your job exposes you to loud sounds. Get your own ear protection if it’s not provided by your employer. There are a few products out there that are made to protect you such as:
If you bring up the situation, it’s likely that your boss will listen.
Give up Smoking
Put hearing health on the long list of reasons to quit smoking. Studies reveal that cigarette smokers are much more likely to experience age-related hearing loss. If you are exposed to second-hand smoke this is also true.
Check And Double Check Your Medications
Some medications are known to cause hearing damage. This is called ototoxicity. A few common offenders include:
- Narcotic analgesics
- Certain antibiotics
- Cardiac medication
- Antidepressants and mood stabilizers
This list is a combination of over-the-counter products and prescription medications and it’s not even all of them. If you take pain relievers, do so only when necessary and read the labels. Consult your doctor first if you are not certain.
Be Kind to Your Body
The common things you should do anyway like eating right and exercise are a major part of preventing hearing loss from getting worse, particularly as you start to get older. If you have high blood pressure, do what you must to manage it like reducing your salt intake and taking the medication prescribed to you. You have a lower risk of chronic illness, such as diabetes, if you take good care of your body and this leads to lower chances of hearing loss.
If you believe that you hear ringing in your ears or if you have some hearing loss, have your hearing examined. Pay close attention to your hearing because you may not even know that you may need hearing aids. It’s never too late to start taking care of your ears, so if you notice any change, even a small one, schedule an appointment with a hearing care professional to find out what to do to stop it from getting worse.