Worsening hearing Loss is Preventable

Couple enjoying their motorcycle while protecting their ears from further hearing loss.

Hearing loss is not necessarily unavoidable, despite the fact that it is common. As they age, most adults will begin to recognize a change in their hearing. After listening to sound for years, you will notice even slight changes in your hearing ability. As with most things in life, though, prevention is the answer to regulating the degree of that loss and how quickly it progresses. Your hearing can be impacted later on in life by the things you decide to do now. In terms of the health of your ears, it’s never too late to care or too early to begin. What can be done to stop your hearing loss from getting worse?

Learn About Your Hearing Loss

It starts with knowing how hearing works and what causes most hearing loss. Age-related hearing loss, medically known as presbycusis, affects one in every three people in this country between the ages of 64 and 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 get to the inner ear. Chemicals are secreted after being bumped by little hairs, which are in turn shaken by inbound sound waves. These chemicals are translated by the brain into electrical signals, which are then “heard” by the brain as sound.

Breaking down over time, due to the constant vibration, the tiny hairs finally quit working. These hair cells won’t restore themselves, either, so once they’re gone, they’re gone. Without those cells to create the electrical signals, the sound is never translated into a language the brain can understand.

So, what causes this deterioration of the hair cells? It will happen, to varying degrees, with aging but there are other factors which will also contribute. How powerful a sound wave is, is known as “volume”. If the sound is at a higher volume, then the strength of the sound wave is greater, and the hair cells take more damage.

Loud noise is certainly a consideration but there are others too. Also, diabetes, high blood pressure, and other chronic illnesses will take a toll.

How to Protect Your Hearing

You need to depend on strong 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 dangerous the noise. Damage is caused at a substantially lower decibel level then you may think. If you notice that you have to raise your voice to talk over a noise, it’s too loud.

Everyone deals with the random loud noise but continuous exposure or even just a few loud minutes at a time is enough to impact your hearing later on. Taking precautions when you expect to be subjected to loud sound, fortunately, is pretty simple. Wear hearing protection when you:

  • Do something where the noise is loud.
  • Ride a motorcycle
  • Go to a concert
  • Run power tools

Headphones, earbuds, and other accessories made to isolate and amplify sound should be avoided. A reduced volume should be chosen and use regular speakers.

Day-to-Day Noises That Can be a Problem

Enough noise can be produced, even by common household sounds, to become a hearing threat over time. When you get an appliance for your house, check the noise rating of the product. It’s much better to use appliances with lower noise ratings.

Don’t worry about speaking up if the noise is too loud when you’re at a restaurant or party. The host of the party, or perhaps even the restaurant manager will probably be willing to help accommodate for your issue.

Be Conscious of Noise While 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 manager. There are a few products out there that will protect you such as:

  • Earmuffs
  • Headphones
  • Earplugs

Your employer will most likely be willing to 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 list. Studies reveal that cigarette smokers are much more likely to get age-related hearing loss. This is true if you are exposed to second-hand smoke, as well.

All The Medications That You Take Should be Closely Evaluated

Ototoxic medications are known to cause damage to your ears. Several typical culprits include:

  • Certain antibiotics
  • Cardiac medication
  • Aspirin
  • Narcotic analgesics
  • Antidepressants and mood stabilizers
  • Diuretics

There are many other items that go on this list, among them some over the counter and some prescription medications. 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 exercising regularly are a major part of preventing hearing loss from getting worse, especially as you start to get older. Decrease the amount of salt you eat and take your medications to deal with your high blood pressure. The better you take care of your health, the lower your chances of chronic health problems that could cost you your hearing over time, like diabetes.

Last but not least, get your hearing tested if you suspect you might have hearing loss or if you hear ringing in your ears. Pay close attention to your hearing because you may not even realize that you may need hearing aids. If you observe any changes in your hearing, schedule an appointment with a hearing specialist. It’s not too late to take care of your hearing.

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