Hearing loss is not always inescapable, even though it is quite common. As they begin to grow older, most adults will notice a change in their hearing ability. After listening to sound for many years, you will start to notice even slight changes in your hearing ability. The extent of the loss and how rapidly it advances is best managed with prevention, which is true with most things in life. Later on in your life, how bad your hearing loss is will be determined by the choices you make now. It’s never too early to begin or too late to care with regards to your ear health. You really want to keep your hearing from getting worse, but what can you do?
Learn About Your Hearing Loss
Understanding how the ears work is the first step to knowing what causes most hearing loss. Age-related hearing loss, medically known as presbycusis, impacts one in every three people in this country 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. Sound waves vibrate little hairs that bump against chemical releasing structures. These chemicals are transformed into electrical signals which the brain interprets as sound.
The drawback to all this shaking and bumping is the hair cells ultimately break down and stop working. Once these hair cells are gone they won’t grow back. Without those cells to produce the electrical impulses, the sound is never translated into a language the brain can comprehend.
So, what leads to this destruction of the hair cells? It can be considerably magnified by several factors but it can be anticipated, to some degree, with aging. Sound waves come in lots of strengths, however; that is what you know as volume. The louder the volume, the stronger the sound wave and the bigger the impact on the hair cells.
There are some other considerations apart from exposure to loud sound. Additionally, diabetes, high blood pressure, and other chronic illnesses will take a toll.
Protecting Your Hearing
You should rely on consistent hearing hygiene to protect your ears over time. Volume is at the heart of the problem. Sound is measured in decibels and the higher the decibel level the more damaging the noise. You might think that it takes a very high volume to cause injury, but it actually doesn’t. You shouldn’t have to raise your voice to talk over another sound. If you do that sound is too loud.
Your hearing will be impacted later on by even a few loud minutes and even more so by frequent exposure. On the plus side, it’s fairly easy to take safety measures to protect your hearing when you expect to be around loud sound. Use hearing protection when you:
- Participate in loud activities.
- Go to a concert
- Ride a motorcycle
- Run power equipment
Headphones, earbuds, and other accessories designed to isolate and amplify sound should be avoided. Partake of music the old-fashioned way and at a lower volume.
Manage The Noise Around You
Over time, even household sounds can become a hearing threat. Nowadays, appliances and other home devices have noise ratings. Try to use appliances that have a lower noise rating.
If you are out at a restaurant or party, don’t be afraid to tell someone if the noise gets too loud. The party’s host, or possibly even the restaurant manager might be willing to help accommodate for your issue.
Be Noise Conscious While at Work
Take the proper steps to safeguard your hearing if your job exposes you to loud sounds. If your manager doesn’t provide hearing protection, invest in your own. Here are a few products that can protect your ears:
Your employer will probably listen if you bring up your concerns.
There are lots of good reasons to stop smoking and you can add hearing loss to the long list. Studies demonstrate that cigarette 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
Ototoxic medications are known to cause damage to your ears. Some common culprits include:
- Mood stabilizers and antidepressants
- Certain antibiotics
- Narcotic analgesics
- Cardiac medication
There are many others that go on this list, among them some over-the-counter and some prescription medications. Only use pain relievers if you really need them and be sure to read all of the labels. If you are uncertain about a drug, consult your doctor before taking it.
Be Kind to Your Body
To slow down hearing loss it’s especially important, as you get older, to do the normal things that keep you healthy, like eating right and exercising. Reduce the amount of sodium you eat and take your medications to manage your high blood pressure. The better you care for your body, the lower your chances of chronic health problems that could cost you your hearing over time, like diabetes.
If you believe that you hear ringing in your ears or if you have some hearing loss, have your hearing checked. You might need hearing aids and not even know it so pay attention to your hearing. If you notice any changes in your hearing, schedule an appointment with a hearing specialist. It’s never too late to take care of your hearing.