Hearing loss is not always unavoidable, although it is common. As they age, the vast majority of people will start to detect a change in their ability to hear. Even small changes in your hearing will be able to be noticed after years of hearing sound. As with most things in life, though, prevention is the key to controlling the degree of that loss and how fast it advances. Later in your life, the extent of your hearing loss will depend on the choices you make now. You should think about it now because you can still protect against further loss of hearing. You want to keep your hearing from becoming worse, but what can you do?
Get The Facts About Hearing Loss
It begins with knowing how the ears work and what causes most hearing loss. Age-associated hearing loss, known medically as presbycusis, affects one in three people in America between the ages of 64 and 74. It is an accumulation of damage to the ears over the years. Presbycusis is slight at first and then gets worse over time.
Sound waves get to the inner ear only after having been amplified a few times by the ear canal. As it arrives, the sound shakes very small hairs cells, causing them to bump structures that release chemicals to create an electrical message which the brain interprets as sound.
All of this shaking inevitably causes the hairs to begin to break down and malfunction. When these hair cells are destroyed, they are gone forever. Without those cells to produce the electrical signals, the sound can’t be translated into a language the brain can comprehend.
How exactly do these hair cells get damaged? There are numerous contributing factors including ordinary aging. How powerful a sound wave is, is known as “volume”. The louder the volume, the more powerful the sound wave and the bigger the impact on the hair cells.
Loud noise is surely a consideration but there are others too. Chronic diseases such as high blood pressure and diabetes have an affect, as well.
How to Take Care Of Your Hearing
You need to rely on consistent hearing hygiene to protect your ears over time. Volume is at the heart of the problem. When sound is at a higher volume or decibel level, it is exponentially more detrimental to the ears. You might believe that it takes a very loud decibel level to cause injury, but it actually doesn’t. A noise is too loud if you have to raise your voice to talk over it.
Even just a few loud minutes, let alone continued exposure, will be enough to have a detrimental effect later on. The good news is protecting your ears from expected loud noises is fairly easy. Use hearing protection when you:
- Ride a motorcycle
- Participate in loud activities.
- Run power tools
- Go to a performance
Avoid using devices made to amplify and isolate sound, too, including headphones or earbuds. A lower volume should be chosen and use conventional speakers.
Control The Noise Around You
Enough noise can be produced, even by common household sounds, to become a hearing threat over time. Today, appliances and other home devices have noise ratings. It’s much better to use devices with lower noise ratings.
If the noise gets too loud when you are out at a party or restaurant, don’t be afraid to let someone know. The host of the party, or possibly even the restaurant manager will probably be willing to help accommodate for your issue.
Be Conscious of Noise When You Are at Work
Take steps to safeguard your hearing if your job subjects you to loud noises. Buy your own hearing protection if it’s not provided by your manager. Here are a few products that can protect your ears:
The chances are good that if you mention your concern, your manager will listen.
Hearing damage is yet another good reason to stop smoking. Studies demonstrate that cigarette smokers are much more likely to get age-related hearing loss. Second-hand smoke can also speed up hearing loss.
Check And Double Check Your Medications
Some medications are known to cause hearing damage. This is called ototoxicity. A few common offenders include:
- Mood stabilizers and antidepressants
- Cardiac medication
- Narcotic analgesics
- Certain antibiotics
The complete list is much longer than this one and includes prescription medication and over the counter products. Only use pain relievers when you really need them and be sure to check all of the labels. Consult your doctor first if you are not certain.
Take Good Care of Your Body
To slow down hearing loss it’s especially important, as you get older, to do the normal things that keep you healthy, like eating well and getting regular exercise. Do what is necessary to deal with your high blood pressure like taking your medication and decreasing salt consumption. The better you take care of your health, the lower your chances of chronic sicknesses that might cost you your hearing over time, like diabetes.
Lastly, get your hearing examined if you suspect you may have hearing loss or if you hear ringing in your ears. You may need hearing aids and not even know it so pay attention to your hearing. If you observe any changes in your hearing, schedule an appointment with a hearing specialist. It’s never too late to take care of your hearing.