Loss of hearing is common for the majority of people, but does it have to be that way? As they grow older, the vast majority of adults will start to detect a change in their ability to hear. After listening to sound for years, you will begin to recognize even slight changes in your hearing ability. Prevention is the best way of managing the extent of the loss and how quickly it progresses, which is true of most things in life. Later in life, how bad your hearing loss is will be determined by the decisions you make 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 becoming worse, but what can be done?
Comprehending Hearing Loss
It starts with understanding how hearing works and what causes most hearing loss. Age-associated hearing loss, medically known as presbycusis, is affecting one in three people in the U.S. from 64 to 74. It is a cumulation of damage to the ears over time. Presbycusis is slight at first and then gets progressively worse.
Sound waves reach the inner ear only after being amplified several times by the ear canal. Once there, the sound shakes little hairs cells, causing them to bump structures that release chemicals to create an electrical message which the brain translates into sound.
Breaking down over time, due to the constant vibration, the tiny hairs finally quit. These hair cells don’t heal themselves, either, so once gone, they don’t come back. The sound is not converted into a language that the brain can understand without those little vibrating hairs.
How exactly do these hair cells get damaged? It will happen, to some extent, with aging but there are other factors which will also contribute. The word “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.
Loud noise is undoubtedly a factor but there are others too. Chronic diseases such as high blood pressure and diabetes have an affect, as well.
Safeguarding Your Hearing
Good hearing hygiene is an important part of taking care of your hearing over time. Sound volume presents the biggest problem. Sound is much 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. If you find that you have to raise your voice to talk over a noise, it’s too loud.
Your hearing will be impacted later on by even a few loud minutes and even more so by continuous exposure. The good news is protecting your ears from expected loud noises is pretty easy. Wear hearing protection when you:
- Go to a concert
- Do something where the noise is loud.
- Ride a motorcycle
- Run power equipment
Avoid using accessories designed to amplify and isolate sound, too, like headphones or earbuds. Partake of music the old-fashioned way and at a lesser volume.
Manage The Noise Around You
Enough noise can be produced, even by every-day household sounds, to become a hearing hazard over time. When you get an appliance for your house, check the noise rating of the product. The lower the rating the better.
If the noise is too loud when you are out at a party or restaurant, don’t be afraid to let someone know. A restaurant manager might be willing to turn the background music down for you or possibly even move you to a different table away from noisy speakers or clanging dishes.
Pay Attention to Noise Levels at Work
Take steps to protect your hearing if your job subjects you to loud noises. If your employer doesn’t provide hearing protection, invest in your own. There are lots of products out there that are made to protect you such as:
If you mention your worries, it’s likely that your employer will listen.
Give up Smoking
Put hearing health on the long list of reasons you shouldn’t smoke. Studies reveal that cigarette smokers are much more likely to get age-related hearing loss. If you are exposed to second-hand smoke this is also true.
All The Medications That You Take Should be Closely Inspected
Ototoxic medications are known to cause damage to your ears. A few typical culprits include:
- Narcotic analgesics
- Certain antibiotics
- Cardiac medication
- Mood stabilizers and antidepressants
There are many other examples that go on this list, including some over the counter and some prescription medications. Only take pain relievers when you really need them and make sure you read all of the labels. Ask your doctor first if you are not certain.
Treat Your Body Well
Exercising and eating right are things you should do anyway but they are also important to your hearing health as well. If you have high blood pressure, do what you can to manage it like decreasing your sodium consumption 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 believe that you hear ringing in your ears or if you have some hearing loss, have your hearing examined. The sooner you realize you have 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.