Hearing loss is not actually inescapable, although it is quite common. As they get older, the majority of people will begin to notice a change in their hearing. That change is just the effect of years and years of listening to sound. The degree of the loss and how fast it advances is best managed with prevention, which is true with most things in life. 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 lessen further loss of hearing. What can you do to stop your hearing loss from becoming worse?
Understanding Hearing Loss
Understanding what causes most hearing loss starts with finding out how the ears actually work. Age-associated hearing loss, known medically as presbycusis, is affecting one in every three people in America between the ages of 64 and 74. It is a cumulation of damage to the ears over the years. Presbycusis is slight at first and then gets progressively worse.
Sound waves reach the inner ear only after being amplified a few times by the ear canal. Once there, the sound jiggles tiny hairs cells, causing them to bump into structures that release chemicals to create an electrical message which the brain interprets as sound.
All of this vibration inevitably causes the hairs to start to break down and misfunction. Once these hair cells are lost they won’t grow back. The sound is not converted into a signal that the brain can understand without those little vibrating hairs.
What’s behind this hair cell destruction? It can be greatly increased by several factors but it can be anticipated, to some degree, as a part of aging. The term “volume” makes reference to the strength of sound waves. The louder the volume, the stronger the sound wave and the bigger the injury to the hair cells.
There are some other factors besides exposure to loud noise. Chronic illnesses such as high blood pressure and diabetes have an affect, as well.
How to Take Care Of Your Hearing
You need to rely on strong hearing hygiene to safeguard your ears over time. The volume of sound is the biggest problem. When sound is at a higher volume or decibel level, it is significantly more harmful to the ears. Damage happens at a substantially lower decibel level then you would think. 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 continued exposure or even just a couple of loud minutes at a time is enough to impact your hearing later on. The good news is protecting your ears from expected loud noises is pretty easy. Use hearing protection when you:
- Ride a motorcycle
- Run power equipment
- Go to a concert
- Do something where the noise is loud.
Avoid using accessories made to amplify and isolate sound, too, including headphones or earbuds. The old-fashioned way is a less dangerous way to partake of music and that means at a lower volume.
Control The Noise Around You
Even the things around your home can generate enough noise to become an issue over time. When you buy an appliance for your house, consider the noise rating of the product. The lower the noise 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. The host of the party, or maybe even the restaurant manager may be willing to help accommodate for your issue.
Be Aware of Noise Levels at Work
At work, protect your ears if your job is loud. Purchase your own ear protection if it’s not provided by your manager. There are lots of products out there that are made to protect you such as:
If you bring up the situation, it’s likely that your manager will listen.
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. Second-hand smoke can also speed up hearing loss.
All The Medications That You Take Should be Closely Inspected
Some medications are known to cause hearing damage. This is called ototoxicity. A few common offenders include:
- Cardiac medication
- Narcotic analgesics
- Antidepressants and mood stabilizers
- Certain antibiotics
This list is a mix of over-the-counter products and prescription medications and it’s not even all of them. If you take pain relievers, do so only when necessary and read the labels. If you are not sure about a drug, ask your doctor before taking it.
Be Kind to Your Body
The little things you should do anyway like eating right and exercising regularly are a major part of preventing hearing loss from getting worse, particularly as you start to get older. Do what is needed to manage your high blood pressure like taking your medication and reducing sodium consumption. 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.
Lastly, have your hearing tested if you believe you may have hearing loss or if you hear ringing in your ears. Pay close attention to your hearing because you might not even recognize that you may need hearing aids. It’s never too late to start taking care of your ears, so if you notice a change, even a small one, schedule an appointment with a hearing care professional to find out what to do to stop it from getting even worse.