Hearing loss is common for most people, but is it inevitable? The fact is, the majority of adults will begin to perceive a change in their hearing as they get older. After listening to sound for many years, you will begin to recognize even small changes in your ability to hear. Prevention is the best method of controlling the extent of the loss and how quickly it progresses, which is the case with most things in life. Your hearing will be affected later in life by the things you decide to do now. In terms of the health of your ears, it’s never too late to care or too soon to begin. You want to keep your hearing from getting worse, but what can you do?
Learn About Your Hearing Loss
It begins with knowing how hearing works and what causes most loss of hearing. Age-related hearing loss, known medically as presbycusis, impacts one in three people in America from 64 to 74. It is a cumulation of damage to the ears over time. Presbycusis is slight at first and then gets worse over time.
Sound comes into the ear as pressure waves that are amplified a number of times before they get to the inner ear. As it arrives, the sound jiggles very small hairs cells, causing them to bump into structures which release chemicals to create an electrical message which the brain interprets as sound.
The downside to all this shaking and vibrating is the hair cells eventually break down and stop working. Once these hair cells are gone they won’t come back. If you lose those little hairs, there are no chemicals released to generate the electrical signal which the brain translates as sound.
How exactly do these hair cells become damaged? There are numerous contributing variables such as ordinary aging. The word “volume” makes reference to the power of sound waves. 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 noise is undoubtedly a factor but there are others too. Chronic diseases such as high blood pressure and diabetes take a toll, as well.
Safeguarding Your Hearing
Taking care of your hearing over time is dependent on consistent hearing hygiene. At the center of the issue is volume. Sound is much more dangerous when it’s at a higher volume or decibel level. It doesn’t take as much as you might think to cause hearing damage. If you find that you have to raise your voice to talk over a noise, it’s too loud.
Your hearing will be affected later on by even a few loud minutes and even more so by constant exposure. Taking precautions when you expect to be subjected to loud sound, luckily, is pretty easy. Use hearing protection when you:
- Go to a performance
- Do something where the noise is loud.
- Ride a motorcycle
- 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 lesser volume.
Day-to-Day Noises That Can Become an Issue
Enough noise can be produced, even by every-day household sounds, to become a hearing hazard over time. Presently, appliances and other home devices come with noise ratings. 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. The party’s host, or perhaps even the restaurant manager might be willing to help accommodate for your issue.
Pay Attention to Noise Levels While at Work
At work, protect your ears if your job is loud. If your manager doesn’t provide hearing protection, get your own. There are a few products out there that are made to protect you such as:
If you mention your concern, it’s likely that your boss will be willing to listen.
Give up Smoking
Put hearing health on the list of reasons to quit smoking. Studies show that smokers are much more likely to get age-related hearing loss. If you are subjected to second-hand smoke this is also true.
Check And Double Check Your Medications
Some medications are known to cause hearing damage. This is called ototoxicity. A few common culprits include:
- Cardiac medication
- Narcotic analgesics
- Certain antibiotics
- Mood stabilizers and antidepressants
This list is a combination of over-the-counter products and prescription medications and it’s not even all of them. Only use pain relievers when you really need them and make sure you check all of the labels. If you are unsure about a drug, ask your doctor before taking it.
Take Good Care of Your Health
Exercising and eating right are things you should do for your general health but they are also essential to your hearing health as well. Lower the amount of salt 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.
Lastly, have your hearing examined if you think you could have hearing loss or if you hear ringing in your ears. The sooner you realize you have a problem, the sooner you can do something about it, like getting hearing aids. Schedule an appointment with a hearing expert to keep any issues from getting worse. It’s never too late.