Loss of hearing is normal for most people, but is it inevitable? The reality is, the majority of people will begin to notice a change in their hearing as they age. Even small differences in your ability to hear 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 extent of that loss and how fast it advances. Your hearing can be impacted later on in life by the choices you make now. You should carefully consider it sooner than later because you can still prevent further hearing loss. What steps can you take right now to protect your hearing?
Get The Facts About Hearing Loss
It starts with understanding how hearing works and what causes most hearing loss. Age-associated hearing loss, medically known 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 starts slowly and then gets progressively worse.
Sound waves reach the inner ear only after having been amplified several times by the ear canal. Sound waves move very little hairs which bump against chemical releasing structures. These chemicals are translated into electrical signals that the brain interprets as sound.
Malfunctioning over time, because of the constant vibration, the tiny hairs finally quit. Once these hair cells are lost they won’t come back. If there are no tiny hairs, there are no chemicals released to produce the electrical signal which the brain translates as sound.
What’s the story behind this hair cell damage? It will happen, to a point, with normal aging but there are other things which will also contribute. How powerful a sound wave is, is generally known as “volume”. The louder the volume, the stronger the sound wave and the bigger the injury to the hair cells.
There are some other considerations besides exposure to loud noise. Chronic diseases such as high blood pressure and diabetes take a toll, as well.
How to Take Care Of Your Hearing
You should depend on good hearing hygiene to safeguard your ears over time. Sound volume presents the biggest problem. Sound is measured in decibels and the higher the decibel the more damaging the noise. You may think that it takes a very high volume to cause injury, but it actually doesn’t. If you find that you have to raise your voice to talk over a noise, it’s too loud.
Your hearing will be impacted later on by even a few loud minutes and even more so by frequent exposure. The good news is protecting your hearing from expected loud noises is pretty easy. Wear hearing protection when you:
- Ride a motorcycle
- Do something where the noise is loud.
- Run power equipment
- Go to a performance
Headphones, earbuds, and other devices designed to isolate and amplify sound should be avoided. Partake of music the old-fashioned way and at a lesser volume.
Day-to-Day Noises That Can Become a Problem
Even the items in your home can generate enough noise to be a threat over time. Nowadays, appliances and other home devices come with 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 speak up if the noise is too loud. A restaurant manager might be willing to turn the background music down for you or perhaps even move you to another table away from noisy speakers or clanging dishes.
Pay Attention to Noise Levels at Work
When you’re working, protect your ears if your work-place is loud. If your boss doesn’t provide hearing protection, invest in your own. There are numerous products out there that will protect you such as:
The chances are good that if you mention your concern, your employer will listen.
Put hearing health on the list of reasons you shouldn’t smoke. Studies reveal that smokers are much more likely to experience age-related hearing loss. Second-hand smoke can also speed up hearing loss.
Make Sure to Look Closely at Medications That You Take
Some medications are known to cause hearing damage. This is called ototoxicity. A few typical culprits include:
- Narcotic analgesics
- Certain antibiotics
- Mood stabilizers and antidepressants
- Cardiac medication
The true list is quite a bit longer than this and includes prescription medication and over the counter products. If you use pain relievers, do so only when necessary and read the labels. Consult your doctor first if you are not sure.
Take Good Care of Your Body
The common 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 start to get older. Do what is necessary to deal with your high blood pressure like taking your medication and decreasing salt consumption. The better you take care of 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 examined. The sooner you realize you have a problem, the sooner you can do something about it, like getting hearing aids. If you detect any changes in your hearing, schedule an appointment with a hearing specialist. It’s never too late to take care of your hearing.