Hearing loss is not necessarily inescapable, even though it is quite common. As they age, most adults will start to notice a subtle change in their hearing. After listening to sound for many years, you will notice even slight changes in your ability to hear. As with most things in life, though, prevention is the answer to managing the extent of that loss and how fast it progresses. There are a few things you can do now that will impact your hearing later in your life. Concerning the health of your ears, it’s never too late to care or too soon to begin. What steps can you take now to protect your hearing?
Learn About Your Hearing Loss
It starts with learning about how the ears work and what causes most loss of hearing. Age-associated hearing loss, medically known as presbycusis, is affecting one in three people in America from 64 to 74. It is a cumulation of damage to the ears over time. Presbycusis starts slowly and then gets progressively worse.
Sound waves reach the inner ear only after having been amplified a few times by the ear canal. As it arrives, the sound vibrates little hairs cells, causing them to bump structures that release chemicals to create an electrical message which the brain translates into sound.
All of this rumbling eventually causes the hairs to begin to break down and misfunction. Once these hair cells are gone they won’t grow back. Without those cells to create the electrical signals, the sound is never translated into a language the brain can understand.
What’s the story behind this hair cell damage? It will happen, to some extent, with aging but there are other factors which will also contribute. The term “volume” makes reference to the strength of sound waves. The louder the volume, the more powerful the sound wave and the bigger the impact on the hair cells.
There are some other considerations besides exposure to loud sound. Chronic sicknesses like high blood pressure and diabetes take a toll, as well.
Safeguarding Your Hearing
Taking care of your hearing over time depends on good hearing hygiene. Volume is at the root of the issue. Sound is a lot more unsafe when it’s at a louder volume or decibel level. It doesn’t take as much as you might think to lead to damage. A noise is too loud if you have to raise your voice to talk over it.
Everyone has to cope with the occasional loud noise but continued exposure or even just a few loud minutes at a time is enough to affect your hearing later on. Fortunately protecting your hearing from expected loud noises is pretty easy. Use hearing protection when you:
- Run power tools
- Do something where the noise is loud.
- Ride a motorcycle
- Go to a performance
Avoid using devices made to amplify and isolate sound, too, like headphones and earbuds. A lower volume should be chosen and use conventional speakers.
Control The Noise Around You
Even the items in your house can produce enough noise to be a problem over time. The noise rating should be checked before you buy a new appliance. Try to use appliances that have a lower noise rating.
If you are out at a crowded restaurant or party, don’t be scared to tell someone if the noise is too loud. A restaurant manager might be willing to turn down the background music for you or even move you to another table away from loud speakers or clanging dishes.
Pay Attention to Noise Levels While at Work
Take the proper steps to safeguard your hearing if your job exposes you to loud sounds. Invest in your own ear protection if it is not provided by your boss. Here are several products that will protect your hearing:
If you mention your worries, chances are your employer will listen.
Give up Smoking
Hearing impairment is yet another good reason to stop smoking. Studies show that cigarette smokers are much more likely to get age-related hearing loss. This is true if you are exposed to second-hand smoke, as well.
All The Medications That You Take Should be Closely Inspected
Some medications are known to cause hearing damage. This is called ototoxicity. A few typical offenders include:
- Cardiac medication
- Antidepressants and mood stabilizers
- Certain antibiotics
- Narcotic analgesics
This list is a combination of over-the-counter products and prescription medications and it’s not even all of them. Read the label of any pain relievers you purchase and take them only when you really need them. Consult your doctor first if you are not sure.
Be Good to Your Body
Regular exercise and a good diet are things you should do for your general health but they are also important to your hearing health as well. Do what is necessary to manage your high blood pressure like taking your medication and reducing salt consumption. 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 have hearing loss or if you have ringing in your ears, get a hearing test. You might 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 worse. It’s never too late.