Hearing loss is not actually inescapable, although it is common. The truth is, the majority of people will begin to detect 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 managing the degree of that loss and how fast it progresses. Later on in life, the extent of your hearing loss will depend on the choices you make now. As for your hearing health, it’s never too late to care or too early to start. What are the steps you can take now to safeguard your hearing?
Get The Facts About Hearing Loss
Learning how the ears actually work is step one to knowing what causes most hearing loss. Age-related hearing loss, medically known as presbycusis, impacts one in three people in America between the ages of 64 and 74. It is a cumulation of damage to the ears over time. Presbycusis is slight at first and then gets worse over time.
Sound goes into the ear as waves that are amplified several times before they reach the inner ear. Chemicals are released after being bumped into by little hairs, which are in turn shaken by inbound waves of sound. These chemicals are interpreted by the brain as electrical pulses, which are then “heard” by the brain as sound.
The drawback to all this movement and bumping is that the hair cells eventually break down and stop working. These hair cells don’t fix themselves, either, so once they’re gone, they’re gone. The sound is not translated into a language that the brain can understand without those little vibrating hairs.
What’s the story behind this hair cell destruction? There are numerous contributing variables such as ordinary aging. Sound waves come in numerous strengths, though; 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.
Direct exposure to loud noise isn’t the only consideration. Additionally, diabetes, high blood pressure, and other chronic ailments will have a strong effect.
Safeguarding Your Hearing
Protecting your hearing over time is dependent on good hearing hygiene. Volume is at the root of the issue. Sound is much more hazardous when it’s at a louder volume or decibel level. You may believe that it takes a very loud volume to cause damage, but it doesn’t. 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 subjected to loud sound, fortunately, is pretty easy. Wear hearing protection when you:
- Go to a concert
- Participate in loud activities.
- Ride a motorcycle
- Run power equipment
Avoid using accessories designed to amplify and isolate sound, also, like headphones or earbuds. A lower volume should be chosen and use regular speakers.
Control The Noise Around You
Enough noise can be produced, even by common household sounds, to become a hearing hazard over time. The noise rating should be taken into consideration before you get a new appliance. 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 afraid to let someone know. The party’s host, or possibly even the restaurant manager may be willing to help accommodate for your issue.
Pay Attention to Noise Levels at Work
At work, protect your ears if your job is loud. If your employer doesn’t provide hearing protection, get your own. There are lots of products out there that will protect you such as:
There’s a good chance that if you mention your concern, your manager will listen.
Give up Smoking
There are lots of good reasons to give up smoking and you can add hearing loss to the list. Studies show that smokers are much more likely to experience age-related hearing loss. This is true if you are subjected to second-hand smoke, too.
Double Check Medications
Many medications are ototoxic, meaning they damage your ears. Several typical offenders include:
- Narcotic analgesics
- Cardiac medication
- Antidepressants and mood stabilizers
- Certain antibiotics
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 check all of the labels. If you are unsure about a drug, ask your doctor before taking it.
Treat Your Body Well
Exercising and eating right are things you should do for your general health but they are also important to your hearing health. Do what is necessary to deal with your high blood pressure like taking your medication and reducing salt intake. 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.
If you suspect you hear ringing in your ears or if you have some hearing loss, get your hearing tested. Pay close attention to your hearing because you might not even know that you may need hearing aids. Schedule an appointment with a hearing expert to keep any problems from getting worse. It’s never too late.