Loss of hearing is normal for the majority of people, but does it have to be that way? The fact is, the majority of adults will begin to perceive a change in their hearing as they age. After listening to sound for years, you will notice even slight changes in your hearing ability. The degree of the loss and how quickly it progresses is best managed with prevention, which is true with most things in life. There are things you can do now that will impact your hearing later in life. It’s never too early to begin or too late to care when it comes to ear health. What can be done to stop your hearing loss from getting worse?
Comprehending Hearing Loss
It starts with understanding how the ears work and what causes most loss of hearing. Age-related hearing loss, known medically as presbycusis, impacts one in every three people in the U.S. from 64 to 74. It is an accumulation of damage to the ears over time. Presbycusis is slight at first and then gets worse over time.
Sound waves reach the inner ear only after being amplified a few times by the ear canal. Sound waves wiggle very little hairs which bump against chemical releasing structures. These chemicals are transformed into electrical signals that the brain interprets as sound.
The drawback to all this shaking and bumping is that the hair cells eventually break down and stop working. These hair cells don’t restore themselves, either, so once gone, they don’t come back. The sound is not converted into a signal that the brain can comprehend without those little vibrating hairs.
How exactly do these hair cells get damaged? There are several contributing factors like normal aging. How powerful a sound wave is, is generally known as “volume”. If the sound is at a higher volume, then the power of the sound wave is greater, and the hair cells take more damage.
Exposure to loud sound isn’t the only factor to consider. Chronic sicknesses such as high blood pressure and diabetes take a toll, as well.
Protecting Your Hearing
You need to depend on good hearing hygiene to take care of your ears over time. Sound volume presents the biggest problem. Sound is much more unsafe when it’s at a higher volume or decibel level. Damage is caused at a much lower decibel level then you would think. If you find that you have to raise your voice to talk over a noise, it’s too loud.
Even a few loud minutes, let alone continuous exposure, will be enough to cause a detrimental effect later on. Taking precautions when you expect to be exposed to loud sound, luckily, is pretty simple. Wear hearing protection when you:
- Go to a concert
- Run power tools
- Ride a motorcycle
- Do something where the noise is loud.
Headphones, earbuds, and other devices designed to isolate and amplify sound should be avoided. A reduced volume should be chosen and use regular speakers.
Manage The Noise Around You
Over time, even household sounds can become a hearing hazard. When you get an appliance for your home, check the noise rating of the product. Try to use appliances that have a lower noise rating.
When you are out at a crowded restaurant or party, don’t be scared to tell someone if the noise gets too loud. The host of the party, or maybe even the restaurant manager may be willing to help accommodate for your issue.
Pay Attention to Noise Levels at Work
If your job subjects you to loud sounds like equipment, you should do something about it. Buy your own ear protection if it is not provided by your employer. Here are a few products that will protect your hearing:
If you mention your situation, it’s likely that your employer will be willing to listen.
Hearing impairment is yet another good reason to give up smoking. Studies show that cigarette smokers are much more likely to get age-related hearing loss. This is true if you are subjected to second-hand smoke, too.
All The Medications That You Take Should be Closely Examined
Certain medications are ototoxic, meaning they damage your ears. Some common offenders include:
- Narcotic analgesics
- Cardiac medication
- Certain antibiotics
- Antidepressants and mood stabilizers
This list is a mix of over-the-counter products and prescription medications and it’s not even all of them. If you use pain relievers, do so only when necessary and check the labels. If you are unsure about a drug, consult your doctor before taking it.
Be Good to Your Body
The little things you should do anyway like eating right and exercising regularly are an essential part of preventing hearing loss from getting worse, particularly as you start to get older. Do what is required to deal with your high blood pressure like taking your medication and decreasing salt intake. The better you care for your body, the lower your risk of chronic sicknesses that could cost you your hearing over time, like diabetes.
If you think you have hearing loss or if you have ringing in your ears, get your hearing tested. The sooner you know you have 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.