It’s typical to have hearing loss as you grow older but is it necessary? As they begin to grow older, most adults will begin to recognize a change in their hearing ability. Even small changes in your hearing will be able to be noticed after years of hearing sound. Just like most things in life, though, prevention is the answer to regulating the degree of that loss and how fast it progresses. There are some things you can do now that will impact your hearing later on in your life. It’s never too early to start or too late to care when it comes to ear health. What can you do to prevent your hearing loss from getting worse?
Learn About Your Hearing Loss
It begins with understanding how hearing works and what causes most hearing loss. Age-related hearing loss, medically known as presbycusis, affects one in every three people in the U.S. from 64 to 74. It is a cumulation of damage to the ears over time. Presbycusis is slight at first and then gets progressively worse.
The ear canal amplifies waves of sound several times before they get to the inner ear. Once there, the sound shakes very small 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 rumbling inevitably causes the hairs to begin to break down and misfunction. Once these hair cells are gone they won’t grow back. If there are no little hairs, there are no chemicals released to produce the electrical signal which the brain translates as sound.
So, what brings about this destruction of the hair cells? It can be greatly increased by several factors but it can be expected, to some degree, as a part of aging. Sound waves come in an assortment of strengths, though; that is what you know as volume. More damage is done to the hair cells if they receive stronger sound waves, and that means a higher volume of sound.
There are some other considerations aside from exposure to loud sound. Chronic sicknesses like high blood pressure and diabetes have an affect, as well.
Safeguarding Your Hearing
You need to depend on strong hearing hygiene to safeguard your ears over time. Volume is at the heart of the issue. 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 might realize. If you notice that you have to raise your voice to talk over a noise, it’s too loud.
Your hearing will be impaired later on by even a few loud minutes and even more so by continuous exposure. Taking precautions when you expect to be exposed to loud sound, fortunately, is pretty simple. Use hearing protection when you:
- Do something where the noise is loud.
- Run power equipment
- Go to a performance
- Ride a motorcycle
Headphones, earbuds, and other devices made to isolate and amplify sound should be avoided. The old-fashioned way is a less dangerous way to listen to music and that means at a reduced volume.
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 have noise ratings. Try to use appliances that have a lower noise rating.
Don’t be afraid to speak up if the noise is too loud when you are at a restaurant or party. The host of the party, or perhaps even the restaurant manager might be willing to help accommodate for your issue.
Pay Attention to Noise Levels While at Work
Take the proper steps to protect your hearing if your job subjects you to loud noises. Purchase your own ear protection if it is not provided by your boss. Here are some products that can protect your hearing:
There’s a good chance that if you bring up the concern, your manager will listen.
There are lots of good reasons to quit smoking and you can add hearing loss to the list. Studies reveal that cigarette smokers are much more likely to get age-related hearing loss. Second-hand smoke can also speed up hearing loss.
Look Twice at Medications
Some medications are known to cause hearing damage. This is called ototoxicity. Several common culprits include:
- Cardiac medication
- Narcotic analgesics
- Mood stabilizers and antidepressants
- Certain antibiotics
This list is a mix of over-the-counter products and prescription medications and it doesn’t cover all of them. Only take pain relievers when you really need them and make sure you read all of the labels. Consult your doctor first if you are not certain.
Treat Your Body Well
The little things you should do anyway like eating right and exercising regularly are a major part of preventing hearing loss from getting worse, especially as you get older. Lower 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 have hearing loss or if you have ringing in your ears, get a hearing test. You could 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 even worse. It’s not too late.