Hearing loss is not always inescapable, although it is quite common. As they age, the vast majority of people will begin to recognize a change in their hearing. Even slight changes in your hearing will be able to be noticed after years of hearing sound. The degree of the loss and how quickly it advances is best managed with prevention, which is true with most things in life. Your hearing will be affected later on in life by the things you decide to do now. You should carefully consider it sooner than later because you can still lessen further hearing loss. You really want to keep your hearing from becoming worse, but what can be done?
Learn About Your Hearing Loss
Learning how the ears actually work is the first step to understanding what causes most hearing loss. Age-associated hearing loss, medically known as presbycusis, affects 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 comes into the ear in waves that are amplified several times before they finally reach the inner ear. Once there, the sound shakes very small hairs cells, causing them to bump structures that release chemicals to create an electrical message which the brain interprets as sound.
Breaking down over time, because of the constant vibration, the tiny hairs eventually quit working. When these hair cells are destroyed, they are gone forever. Without those cells to generate the electrical impulses, the sound can’t be translated into a language the brain can understand.
So, what leads to this damage to the hair cells? It can be considerably magnified by several factors but it can be anticipated, to some degree, with aging. How strong a sound wave is, is generally known as “volume”. If the sound is at a higher volume, then the power of the sound wave is greater, and the hair cells take more damage.
There are some other factors besides exposure to loud noise. Chronic sicknesses like high blood pressure and diabetes take a toll, as well.
Safeguarding Your Hearing
Protecting your hearing over time depends on good hearing hygiene. The volume of sound is the biggest problem. When sound is at a higher volume or decibel level, it is significantly more damaging to the ears. Damage is caused at a substantially lower decibel level then you might think. A noise is too loud if you have to raise your voice to talk over it.
Even just a few loud minutes, never mind frequent exposure, will be enough to have a detrimental effect later on. 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 tools
- Ride a motorcycle
- Participate in loud activities.
Avoid using devices made 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
Over time, even household sounds will become a hearing hazard. Presently, appliances and other home devices come with noise ratings. Try to use appliances that have a lower noise rating.
Don’t be afraid to speak up if the noise is too loud when you are at a restaurant or party. The host of the party, or possibly even the restaurant manager will probably 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 exposes you to loud noises. Buy your own ear protection if it is not provided by your manager. Here are some products that can protect your hearing:
If you bring up the worries, it’s likely that your manager will be willing to listen.
Add hearing to the long list of reasons you shouldn’t smoke. Studies reveal that cigarette 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. Several common culprits include:
- Cardiac medication
- Narcotic analgesics
- Certain antibiotics
- Antidepressants and mood stabilizers
The true list is much longer than this one and includes prescription medication and over the counter products. Only use pain relievers when you really need them and make sure you check all of the labels. If you are uncertain about a drug, ask your doctor before taking it.
Treat Your Body Well
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. If you have high blood pressure, do what you can to manage it like reducing your sodium consumption and taking the medication prescribed to you. The better you care for your health, the lower your chances of chronic illnesses that might cost you your hearing over time, like diabetes.
If you think you hear ringing in your ears or if you have some hearing loss, have your hearing tested. You may need hearing aids and not even know it so pay close attention to your hearing. It’s never too late to take care of your hearing, so if you notice a change, even a small one, schedule an appointment with a hearing care professional to find out what you can do to keep it from getting even worse.