Hearing loss is common for most people, but is it inevitable? As they age, the majority of people will begin to recognize a change in their hearing. That change is really the effect of a lot of years of listening to sound. Prevention is the best method of managing the extent of the loss and how rapidly it advances, which is true of most things in life. There are a few things you can do now that will impact your hearing later in your life. It’s never too soon to begin or too late to care with regards to your hearing health. What can be done to keep your hearing loss from becoming worse?
Comprehending Hearing Loss
Learning how the ears actually work is step one to knowing what causes most hearing loss. Age-related hearing loss, known medically as presbycusis, affects one in every three people in the U.S. from 64 to 74. It is an accumulation of damage to the ears over time. Presbycusis starts slowly and then gets progressively worse.
Sound waves reach the inner ear only after having been amplified several times by the ear canal. Once there, the sound jiggles tiny hairs cells, causing them to bump into structures which release chemicals to create an electrical message which the brain interprets as sound.
Malfunctioning over time, due to the constant vibration, the tiny hairs eventually quit. When these hair cells are destroyed, they are gone for good. If you lose those little hairs, there are no chemicals released to create the electrical signal which the brain translates as sound.
What’s behind this hair cell destruction? It will happen, to varying degrees, with normal aging but there are other factors which will also contribute. How strong a sound wave is, is generally known as “volume”. The louder the volume, the more powerful the sound wave and the bigger the impact on the hair cells.
Loud sound is definitely a factor but there are others too. Chronic sicknesses such as high blood pressure and diabetes take a toll, as well.
How to Take Care Of Your Hearing
You need to rely on good hearing hygiene to protect your ears over time. At the heart of the problem is volume. Sound is a lot more dangerous when it’s at a louder volume or decibel level. Damage is caused at a much lower decibel level then you would realize. You shouldn’t need to raise your voice to talk over another sound. If you do that sound is too loud.
Everyone deals with the occasional loud noise but constant exposure or even just a few loud minutes at a time is sufficient to impact your hearing later on. Taking precautions when you expect to be exposed to loud sound, fortunately, is pretty simple. Use hearing protection when you:
- Go to a performance
- Ride a motorcycle
- Run power tools
- Do something where the noise is loud.
Headphones, earbuds, and other accessories designed to isolate and amplify sound should be avoided. A lower volume should be chosen and use conventional speakers.
Control The Noise Around You
Even the items in your house can make enough noise to be an issue over time. Presently, appliances and other home devices have noise ratings. Try to use appliances that have a lower noise rating.
If the noise gets too loud when you are out at a party or restaurant, don’t be afraid to speak up. A restaurant manager may be willing to turn down the background music for you or maybe even move you to another table away from loud speakers or clanging dishes.
Be Aware of Noise Levels at Work
If your job subjects you to loud sounds like equipment, then do something about it. If your boss doesn’t provide hearing protection, get your own. Here are several products that will protect your ears:
Your employer will probably listen if you bring up your worries.
Give up Smoking
There are lots of good reasons to give up smoking and you can add hearing loss to the long list. Studies reveal that smokers are much more likely to get age-related hearing loss. This is true if you are exposed to second-hand smoke, also.
Check And Double Check Your Medications
Some medications are known to cause hearing damage. This is called ototoxicity. Some typical culprits include:
- Cardiac medication
- Certain antibiotics
- Narcotic analgesics
- Antidepressants and mood stabilizers
There are many others that go on this list, among them some over the counter and some prescription medications. Only take pain relievers if you really need them and be sure to check all of the labels. Consult your doctor first if you are not certain.
Treat Your Body Well
The common things you should do anyway like eating right and exercise are a major part of preventing hearing loss from getting worse, particularly as you start to get older. Reduce the amount of sodium 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 have hearing loss or if you hear ringing in your ears, get a hearing exam. The sooner you realize there is a problem, the sooner you can do something about it, such as getting hearing aids. Schedule an appointment with a hearing expert to keep any issues from getting worse. It’s never too late.