Loss of hearing is common for the majority of people, but does it have to be that way? As they age, the majority of adults will begin to take note of a change in their ability to hear. That change is simply the effect of years and years of listening to sound. Like most things in life, though, prevention is the key to controlling the degree of that loss and how fast it advances. There are a few things you can do now that will affect your hearing later in your life. 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
It starts with learning about how hearing works and what causes most loss of hearing. Age-associated hearing loss, known medically as presbycusis, is affecting one in three people in America 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 sound waves several times before they get to the inner ear. As it arrives, the sound vibrates very small hairs cells, causing them to bump into structures which release chemicals to create an electrical message which the brain translates into sound.
All of this vibration inevitably causes the hairs to start to break down and malfunction. Once these hair cells are lost they won’t grow back. The sound is not converted into a signal that the brain can comprehend without those little vibrating hairs.
So, what leads to this deterioration of the hair cells? It can be considerably increased by several factors but it can be anticipated, to varying degrees, with 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 more powerful sound waves, and that means a higher volume of sound.
There are some other considerations apart from exposure to loud sound. Also, diabetes, high blood pressure, and other chronic ailments will have a strong effect.
Protecting Your Hearing
You need to rely on strong hearing hygiene to take care of your ears over time. At the center of the problem is volume. Sound is measured in decibels and the higher the decibel level the more hazardous the noise. You may believe that it takes a very loud volume to cause damage, but it actually doesn’t. You shouldn’t need to raise your voice to talk over another sound. If you do that sound is too loud.
Even a few loud minutes, not to mention continued exposure, will be enough to cause an adverse effect later on. Fortunately protecting your ears from expected loud noises is pretty easy. Use hearing protection when you:
- Run power tools
- Ride a motorcycle
- Go to a performance
- Do something where the noise is loud.
Headphones, earbuds, and other accessories made to isolate and amplify sound should be avoided. The old-fashioned way is a safer way to partake of music and that means at a reduced volume.
Day-to-Day Noises That Can be a Problem
Over time, even everyday sounds can become a hearing threat. The noise rating should be taken into consideration before you invest in a new appliance. Try to use appliances that have a lower noise rating.
If the noise gets too loud when you are out at a party or restaurant, don’t be afraid to let someone know. A restaurant manager might be willing to turn the background music down for you or perhaps even move you to a different table away from noisy speakers or clanging dishes.
Pay Attention to Noise Levels at Work
Take steps to safeguard your hearing if your job exposes you to loud sounds. Buy your own ear protection if it’s not provided by your manager. Here are some products that can protect your ears:
Your employer will probably listen if you bring up your worries.
Give up Smoking
There are lots of good reasons to quit smoking and you can add hearing loss to the long list. Studies reveal that cigarette smokers are much more likely to experience age-related hearing loss. Second-hand smoke can also speed up hearing loss.
Be Sure to Look Closely at Medications That You Take
Ototoxic medications are known to cause damage to your ears. A few typical offenders include:
- Antidepressants and mood stabilizers
- Narcotic analgesics
- Cardiac medication
- Certain antibiotics
The complete list is much longer than this and contains prescription medication as well as over the counter products. If you take pain relievers, do so only when necessary and check the labels. Consult your doctor first if you are unsure.
Treat Your Body Well
The common things you should do anyway like eating a healthy diet and exercise are an important part of preventing hearing loss from getting worse, particularly as you start to get older. Do what is needed to deal with your high blood pressure like taking your medication and decreasing salt 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 problems.
If you have hearing loss or if you hear ringing in your ears, get a hearing test. The sooner you acknowledge there is a problem, the sooner you can do something about it, like getting hearing aids. Schedule an appointment with a hearing expert to keep any issues from getting even worse. It’s not too late.