Hearing loss is normal for most people, but does it have to be that way? As they age, most adults will begin to recognize a subtle change in their hearing ability. Even slight changes in your hearing will be able to be noticed after years of hearing sound. Like most things in life, though, prevention is the key to controlling the extent of that loss and how quickly it advances. There are some things you can do now that will affect your hearing later on in your life. In terms of the health of your ears, it’s never too late to care or too early to start. What are the steps you can take now to safeguard your hearing?
Learn About Your Hearing Loss
Learning how the ears work is the first step to knowing what causes most hearing loss. Age-related hearing loss, known medically as presbycusis, is affecting one in every three people in the U.S. from 64 to 74. It is an accumulation of damage to the ears over the years. Presbycusis starts slowly and then gets progressively worse.
The ear canal amplifies sound waves several times before they get to the inner ear. Chemicals are secreted after being bumped into by little hairs, which are in turn shaken by inbound waves of sound. These chemicals are translated by the brain into electrical pulses, which are then “heard” by the brain as sound.
Malfunctioning over time, due to the constant vibration, the tiny hairs finally quit working. When these hair cells are destroyed, they are gone forever. Without those cells to create the electrical impulses, the sound is never translated into a language the brain can understand.
So, what causes this destruction of the hair cells? It will happen, to some degree, with aging but there are other things which will also contribute. The term “volume” makes reference to the power of sound waves. More damage is done to the hair cells if they receive more powerful sound waves, and that means a higher volume of sound.
Loud sound is undoubtedly a consideration but there are others too. Additionally, diabetes, high blood pressure, and other chronic diseases will have a strong effect.
How to Protect Your Hearing
Protecting your ears over time is dependent on consistent hearing hygiene. Sound volume presents the biggest problem. Sound is far more hazardous when it’s at a louder volume or decibel level. Damage is caused at a much lower decibel level then you may realize. A noise is too loud if you have to raise your voice to talk over it.
Your hearing will be impaired later on by even a couple of loud minutes and even more so by continuous exposure. The good news is protecting your ears from expected loud noises is pretty easy. Use hearing protection when you:
- Do something where the noise is loud.
- Ride a motorcycle
- Go to a concert
- Run power equipment
Headphones, earbuds, and other accessories designed to isolate and amplify sound should be avoided. Partake of music the old-fashioned way and at a lower volume.
Control The Noise Around You
Even the items in your home can generate enough noise to become a problem over time. The noise rating should be checked before you invest in a new appliance. Try to use appliances that have a lower noise rating.
If the noise is too loud while you are out at a party or restaurant, don’t be afraid to speak up. The party’s host, or maybe even the restaurant manager might be willing to help accommodate for your issue.
Be Aware of Noise Levels at Work
If your job exposes you to loud noises like equipment, then do something about it. Buy your own hearing protection if it’s not provided by your boss. Here are some products that will protect your ears:
The chances are good that if you bring up the concern, your employer will listen.
There are lots of good reasons to give up smoking and you can add hearing loss to the list. Studies demonstrate that cigarette smokers are much more likely to experience age-related hearing loss. This is true if you are subjected to second-hand smoke, as well.
Check And Double Check Your Medications
Ototoxic medications are known to cause damage to your ears. Several common culprits include:
- Narcotic analgesics
- Antidepressants and mood stabilizers
- Certain antibiotics
- Cardiac medication
The complete list is much longer than this and consists of prescription medication and over the counter medicines. If you take pain relievers, do so only when necessary and check the labels. Consult your doctor first if you are uncertain.
Be Good to Your Body
Exercising and eating right are things you should do for your general health but they are also relevant to your hearing health. Cut down on the amount of sodium you eat and take your medications to manage your high blood pressure. 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.
Last but not least, get your hearing examined if you think you have hearing loss or if you hear ringing in your ears. You may need hearing aids and not even know it so pay close attention to your hearing. Schedule an appointment with a hearing expert to keep any issues from getting even worse. It’s not too late.