Hearing loss is normal for most people, but does it have to be that way? As they begin to grow older, most adults will begin to recognize a change in their hearing. That change is really the effect of years and years of listening to sound. Prevention is the best method of managing the extent of the loss and how rapidly it advances, which is true of most things in life. Your hearing will be impacted later in life by the things you decide to do now. It’s never too soon to start or too late to care when it comes to hearing health. What can you do to keep your hearing loss from becoming worse?
Learn About Your Hearing Loss
Recognizing what causes most hearing loss begins with finding out how the ears work. Age-related hearing loss, known medically as presbycusis, is affecting 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 starts slowly and then gets worse over time.
The ear canal amplifies sound waves several times before they make it to the inner ear. Sound waves oscillate little hairs which bump against chemical releasing structures. These chemicals are transformed into electrical signals which the brain interprets as sound.
The drawback to all this shaking and oscillation is the hair cells ultimately break down and stop working. These hair cells won’t fix themselves, either, so once they’re gone, they don’t come back. If there are no tiny hairs, there are no chemicals released to produce the electrical signal which the brain interprets as sound.
So, what causes this destruction of the hair cells? There are lots of contributing variables like ordinary aging. The term “volume” makes reference to the power of sound waves. The higher the volume, the stronger the sound wave and the bigger the impact on the hair cells.
Direct exposure to loud sound isn’t the only consideration. Also, diabetes, high blood pressure, and other chronic illnesses will take a toll.
Protecting Your Hearing
You should depend on good hearing hygiene to safeguard your ears over time. At the heart of the issue is volume. When sound is at a higher volume or decibel level, it is exponentially more damaging to the ears. Damage happens 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.
Everyone has to cope with the occasional loud noise but constant exposure or even just a few loud minutes at a time is sufficient to affect your hearing later on. Taking precautions when you expect to be subjected to loud sound, fortunately, is pretty easy. Use hearing protection when you:
- Run power equipment
- Participate in loud activities.
- Go to a concert
- Ride a motorcycle
Headphones, earbuds, and other accessories made to isolate and amplify sound should be avoided. The old-fashioned way is a less dangerous way to partake of music and that means at a reduced volume.
Control The Noise Around You
Enough noise can be produced, even by common household sounds, to become a hearing hazard 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 scared to speak up. A restaurant manager might be willing to turn the background music down for you or maybe even move you to a different table away from loud speakers or clanging dishes.
Be Conscious of Noise at Work
If your job subjects you to loud noises like equipment, you need to do something about it. If your manager doesn’t provide hearing protection, buy your own. There are lots of products out there that will protect you such as:
Your employer will most likely be willing to listen if you bring up your concerns.
There are lots of good reasons to quit smoking and you can add hearing loss to the long list. Studies reveal that smokers are much more likely to experience age-related hearing loss. Second-hand smoke can also speed up hearing loss.
Check And Double Check Your Medications
Ototoxic medications are known to cause damage to your ears. Some typical culprits include:
- Certain antibiotics
- Cardiac medication
- Narcotic analgesics
- Antidepressants and mood stabilizers
The true list is quite a bit longer than this and consists of prescription medication as well as over the counter products. Only use pain relievers if you really need them and be sure to check all of the labels. If you are not sure about a drug, consult your doctor before taking it.
Treat Your Body Well
The common things you should do anyway like eating right and exercise are a major part of preventing hearing loss from getting worse, especially as you get older. If you have high blood pressure, do what you must to manage it like lowering your salt intake and taking the medication prescribed to you. You have a lower risk of chronic health problems, such as diabetes, if you take good care of your body and this leads to lower chances of hearing loss.
If you think you have hearing loss or if you hear ringing in your ears, get your hearing tested. You might need hearing aids and not even know it so pay attention to your hearing. If you detect any changes in your hearing, schedule an appointment with a hearing specialist. It’s not too late to take care of your hearing.