Hearing loss is not always inevitable, although it is common. The truth is, the majority of people will begin to perceive a change in their hearing as they age. After listening to sound for many years, you will begin to recognize even small changes in your hearing ability. Just like most things in life, though, prevention is the key to regulating the extent of that loss and how fast it advances. There are some things you can do now that will affect your hearing later on in life. You should think about it sooner than later because you can still prevent further hearing loss. What can be done to prevent your hearing loss from getting worse?
Comprehending Hearing Loss
Knowing what causes most hearing loss begins with finding out how the ears work. Age-associated hearing loss, known medically as presbycusis, is affecting one in three people in America from 64 to 74. It is a cumulation of damage to the ears over the years. Presbycusis is slight at first and then gets worse over time.
The ear canal amplifies waves of sound several times before they reach the inner ear. Chemicals are discharged after being bumped by little hairs, which are in turn shaken by incoming sound waves. These chemicals are translated by the brain into electrical signals, which are then “heard” by the brain as sound.
Malfunctioning over time, because of the constant vibration, the tiny hairs eventually quit working. Once these hair cells are lost they won’t grow back. Without those cells to create the electrical signals, the sound can’t be translated into a language the brain can understand.
So, what creates this deterioration of the hair cells? It will happen, to varying degrees, with aging but there are other factors which will also contribute. Sound waves come in countless strengths, however; that is what’s known as volume. More damage is done to the hair cells if they receive stronger sound waves, and that means a higher volume of sound.
Loud sound is surely a factor but there are others too. Chronic sicknesses like high blood pressure and diabetes have an affect, as well.
Safeguarding Your Hearing
Protecting your ears over time is dependent on consistent hearing hygiene. At the heart of the issue is volume. Sound is measured using decibels and the higher the decibel level the more dangerous the noise. Damage is caused at a substantially lower decibel level then you might realize. A noise is too loud if you have to raise your voice to talk over it.
Everyone has to cope with the random loud noise but continued exposure or even just a couple of loud minutes at a time is enough to affect your hearing later on. The good news is protecting your hearing from expected loud noises is really easy. Wear hearing protection when you:
- Participate in loud activities.
- Run power equipment
- Go to a concert
- Ride a motorcycle
Avoid using accessories made to amplify and isolate sound, also, like headphones and earbuds. A reduced volume should be chosen and use regular speakers.
Manage The Noise Around You
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. It’s much better to use equipment with lower noise ratings.
If you are out at a crowded restaurant or party, don’t be afraid to tell someone if the noise gets too loud. The host of the party, or possibly even the restaurant manager will probably be willing to help accommodate for your issue.
Be Aware of Noise Levels at Work
Take the proper steps to protect your hearing if your job subjects you to loud noises. If your boss doesn’t provide hearing protection, invest in your own. Here are some products that will protect your ears:
If you mention your concern, chances are your employer will be willing to listen.
Give up Smoking
Hearing damage is yet another good reason to quit smoking. Studies demonstrate that cigarette smokers are much more likely to get age-related hearing loss. If you are subjected to second-hand smoke this is also true.
Double Check Medications
Ototoxic medications are known to cause damage to your ears. Several common offenders include:
- Certain antibiotics
- Narcotic analgesics
- Mood stabilizers and antidepressants
- Cardiac medication
The true list is quite a bit longer than this one and contains prescription medication as well as over the counter products. Read the label of any pain relievers you buy and take them only when necessary. If you are unsure about a drug, ask your doctor before taking it.
Be Kind to Your Body
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. Lessen the amount of salt you consume and take your medications to deal with 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 problems.
If you think you hear ringing in your ears or if you have some hearing loss, have your hearing examined. You may need hearing aids and not even know it so pay close attention to your hearing. Schedule an appointment with a hearing expert to keep any issues from getting worse. It’s not too late.