Loss of hearing is common for most people, but is it inevitable? As they age, the vast majority of adults will start to take note of a change in their hearing. Even slight changes in your ability to hear will be able to be noticed after years of hearing sound. Prevention is the best means of managing the extent of the loss and how rapidly it progresses, which is true of 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 begin or too late to care with regards to your hearing health. You want to keep your hearing from becoming worse, but what can you do?
Comprehending Hearing Loss
It begins with understanding how the ears work and what causes most hearing loss. 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 time. Presbycusis starts slowly and then gets progressively worse.
The ear canal amplifies waves of sound several times before they get to the inner ear. Once there, the sound jiggles little hairs cells, causing them to bump structures which release chemicals to create an electrical message which the brain interprets as sound.
All of this shaking inevitably causes the hairs to start to break down and misfunction. These hair cells won’t repair themselves, either, so once they’re gone, they don’t come back. Without those cells to produce the electrical signals, the sound can’t be translated into a language the brain can comprehend.
What’s the story behind this hair cell destruction? There are numerous contributing variables like normal aging. How strong a sound wave is, is generally known as “volume”. If the sound is at a higher volume, then the force of the sound wave is greater, and the hair cells take more damage.
Loud sound is undoubtedly a consideration but there are others too. Chronic illnesses such as high blood pressure and diabetes take a toll, as well.
How to Protect Your Hearing
Good hearing hygiene is a big part of protecting your hearing over time. At the root of the issue is volume. Sound is far more unsafe when it’s at a higher volume or decibel level. Damage is caused at a much lower decibel level then you might think. A noise is too loud if you have to raise your voice to talk over it.
Your hearing can be impaired later on by even a few loud minutes and even more so by constant exposure. Taking precautions when you expect to be exposed to loud sound, fortunately, is pretty easy. Use hearing protection when you:
- Go to a performance
- Run power equipment
- Ride a motorcycle
- Participate in loud activities.
Headphones, earbuds, and other devices designed 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.
Manage The Noise Around You
Even the things around your home can make enough noise to become an issue over time. The noise rating should be checked before you invest in a new appliance. It’s much better to use appliances with lower noise ratings.
If the noise gets too loud while you are out at a party or restaurant, don’t be afraid to let someone know. The party’s host, or perhaps even the restaurant manager may be willing to help accommodate for your issue.
Pay Attention to Noise Levels While at Work
Take the proper steps to safeguard your hearing if your job subjects you to loud sounds. If your company doesn’t provide hearing protection, invest in your own. Here are a few products that will protect your ears:
If you bring up the concern, it’s likely that your manager will listen.
There are lots of good reasons to quit smoking and you can add hearing loss to the long list. Studies show 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
Many medications are ototoxic, meaning they damage your ears. Several common offenders include:
- Cardiac medication
- Antidepressants and mood stabilizers
- Narcotic analgesics
- Certain antibiotics
This list is a mix of over-the-counter products and prescription medications and it doesn’t cover all of them. If you take pain relievers, do so only when necessary and read the labels. Ask 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 as well. Decrease the amount of sodium you consume and take your medications to manage your high blood pressure. The better you take care of your body, the lower your chances of chronic illnesses that could cost you your hearing over time, like diabetes.
Last but not least, have your hearing examined if you believe that you might have hearing loss or if you hear ringing in your ears. The sooner you acknowledge there is a problem, the sooner you can do something about it, like getting hearing aids. If you detect any changes in your hearing, schedule an appointment with a hearing specialist. It’s never too late to take care of your hearing.