Loss of hearing is common for most people, but does it have to be that way? The truth is, the majority of adults will start to become aware of a change in their hearing as they age. Even slight differences in your ability to hear will be able to be noticed after years of hearing sound. The extent of the loss and how quickly it advances is best managed with prevention, which is true with most things in life. Later on in life, the extent of your hearing loss will depend on the decisions you make now. When it comes to the health of your ears, it’s never too late to care or too soon to begin. What are the steps you can take right now to safeguard your hearing?
Get The Facts About Hearing Loss
Understanding what causes the majority of hearing loss begins with learning how the ears work. Age-associated hearing loss, medically known as presbycusis, impacts one in three people in this country from 64 to 74. It is an accumulation of damage to the ears over time. Presbycusis starts slowly and then gets worse over time.
The ear canal amplifies waves of sound several times before they reach the inner ear. As it arrives, the sound jiggles little hairs cells, causing them to bump structures which release chemicals to create an electrical message which the brain interprets as sound.
Breaking down over time, due to the constant vibration, the tiny hairs finally quit. Once these hair cells are gone they won’t grow back. If you lose those little hairs, there are no chemicals released to produce the electrical impulse which the brain interprets as sound.
How exactly do these hair cells get damaged? It will happen, to varying degrees, with aging but there are other things which will also contribute. The word “volume” makes reference to the power of sound waves. The louder the volume, the more powerful the sound wave and the bigger the impact on the hair cells.
Loud noise is undoubtedly a factor but there are others too. Additionally, diabetes, high blood pressure, and other chronic ailments will have a strong effect.
Safeguarding Your Hearing
Safeguarding your hearing over time depends on good hearing hygiene. Volume is at the heart of the problem. Sound is a lot more dangerous when it’s at a louder volume or decibel level. Damage happens at a far lower decibel level then you would realize. A noise is too loud if you have to raise your voice to talk over it.
Your hearing will be affected later on by even a couple of loud minutes and even more so by continuous exposure. Fortunately protecting your ears from expected loud noises is fairly easy. Use hearing protection when you:
- Participate in loud activities.
- Go to a concert
- Ride a motorcycle
- Run power tools
Avoid using accessories designed to amplify and isolate sound, also, like headphones and earbuds. The old-fashioned way is a much safer way to partake of music and that means at a lower volume.
Control The Noise Around You
Over time, even everyday sounds will become a hearing threat. The noise rating should be checked before you buy a new appliance. Try to use appliances that have a lower noise rating.
If the noise gets too loud while you are out at a party or restaurant, don’t be scared to speak up. The host of the party, or maybe even the restaurant manager may be willing to help accommodate for your issue.
Be Noise Conscious at Work
At work, protect your ears if your job is loud. If your boss doesn’t provide hearing protection, buy your own. There are lots of products out there that will protect you such as:
If you mention your concern, chances are your manager will be willing to listen.
There are lots of good reasons to stop smoking and you can add hearing loss to the list. Studies show that smokers are much more likely to get age-related hearing loss. If you are exposed to second-hand smoke this is also true.
Check And Double Check Your Medications
Some medications are known to cause hearing damage. This is called ototoxicity. Some typical culprits include:
- Certain antibiotics
- Cardiac medication
- Narcotic analgesics
- Antidepressants and mood stabilizers
There are many other items that go on this list, among them some over the counter and some prescription medications. Only use pain relievers when you really need them and make sure you read all of the labels. Ask your doctor first if you are unsure.
Take Good Care of Your Health
Exercising and eating right are things you should do for your general health but they are also relevant to your hearing health as well. Do what is necessary to manage your high blood pressure like taking your medication and decreasing sodium consumption. You have a lower risk of chronic health problems, such as diabetes, if you take good care of your body and this leads to lower chances of hearing loss.
If you believe you hear ringing in your ears or if you have some hearing loss, have your hearing checked. You could 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 not too late to take care of your hearing.