It’s typical to have hearing loss as you grow older but does it need to happen? The truth is, the majority of people will start to recognize a change in their hearing as they get older. After listening to sound for many years, you will begin to recognize even small changes in your ability to hear. Prevention is the best means of controlling the extent of the loss and how rapidly it advances, which is true of most things in life. Later in life, how bad your hearing loss is will be determined by the decisions you make now. It’s never too soon to start or too late to care when it comes to hearing health. You want to keep your hearing from becoming worse, but what can you do?
Comprehending Hearing Loss
It begins with understanding how the ears work and what causes most loss of hearing. Age-related hearing loss, medically known as presbycusis, impacts one in three people in America from 64 to 74. It is an accumulation of damage to the ears over the years. Presbycusis is slight at first and then gets worse over time.
The ear canal amplifies sound waves several times before they reach the inner ear. Sound waves move very little hairs that bump into chemical releasing structures. These chemicals are translated into electrical signals that the brain interprets as sound.
All of this rumbling inevitably causes the hairs to start to break down and misfunction. These hair cells won’t repair themselves, either, so once gone, they don’t come back. The sound is not converted into a language that the brain can comprehend without those little vibrating hairs.
What’s the story behind this hair cell damage? There are lots of contributing factors such as normal aging. Sound waves come in a variety of strengths, however; that is what’s known as volume. The higher the volume, the more powerful the sound wave and the bigger the injury to the hair cells.
There are some other considerations apart from exposure to loud sound. Additionally, diabetes, high blood pressure, and other chronic illnesses will have a strong effect.
How to Protect Your Hearing
You need to rely on consistent hearing hygiene to take care of your ears over time. Volume is at the root of the problem. Sound is much more hazardous when it’s at a louder volume or decibel level. Damage happens at a substantially lower decibel level then you would think. You shouldn’t have to raise your voice to talk over another sound. If you do that sound is too loud.
Everyone deals with the random loud noise but constant exposure or even just a couple of loud minutes at a time is enough to impact your hearing later in life. Taking precautions when you expect to be subjected to loud sound, fortunately, is pretty easy. Wear hearing protection when you:
- Ride a motorcycle
- Run power tools
- Participate in loud activities.
- Go to a concert
Avoid using devices designed to amplify and isolate sound, also, including headphones or earbuds. Listen to music the old-fashioned way and at a lesser volume.
Control The Noise Around You
Enough noise can be produced, even by common household sounds, to become a hearing hazard over time. The noise rating should be taken into consideration before you get a new appliance. The lower the noise rating the better.
Don’t be afraid to speak up if the noise is too loud when you’re at a restaurant or party. The host of the party, or possibly even the restaurant manager might be willing to help accommodate for your issue.
Be Conscious of Noise While at Work
When you’re working, protect your ears if your job is loud. If your employer doesn’t provide hearing protection, get your own. Here are several products that will protect your hearing:
If you bring up the situation, it’s likely that your employer will be willing to listen.
Give up Smoking
Hearing damage is yet another good reason to stop smoking. Studies show that smokers are much more likely to get age-related hearing loss. Second-hand smoke can also speed up hearing loss.
Check And Double Check Your Medications
Ototoxic medications are known to cause damage to your ears. Several common culprits include:
- Mood stabilizers and antidepressants
- Certain antibiotics
- Narcotic analgesics
- Cardiac medication
The true list is much longer than this one and consists of prescription medication and over the counter medicines. If you take pain relievers, do so only when necessary and check the labels. If you are unsure about a drug, consult your doctor before taking it.
Take Good Care of Your Health
Regular exercise and a good diet are things you should do anyway but they are also important to your hearing health. Cut down on the amount of salt you eat and take your medications to deal with your high blood pressure. The better you care for your body, the lower your chances 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 a hearing exam. The sooner you acknowledge there is a problem, the sooner you can do something about it, like getting hearing aids. If you observe any changes in your hearing, schedule an appointment with a hearing specialist. It’s never too late to take care of your hearing.