Worsening hearing Loss is Preventable

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

Loss of hearing is common for most people, but is it inevitable? As they get older, the vast majority of people will begin to experience a change in their hearing. That change is really the effect of years and years of listening to sound. The degree of the loss and how quickly it advances 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 on in your life. When it comes to your hearing health, it’s never too late to care or too soon to begin. You want to keep your hearing from becoming worse, but what can be done?

Get The Facts About Hearing Loss

It starts with recognizing how hearing works and what causes most loss of hearing. Age-related hearing loss, medically known as presbycusis, impacts one in every three people in America between the ages of 64 and 74. It is a cumulation of damage to the ears over time. Presbycusis starts slowly and then gets worse over time.

Sound enters the ear in waves that are amplified several times before they reach the inner ear. Sound waves oscillate little hairs that bump against chemical releasing structures. These chemicals are translated into electrical signals which the brain interprets as sound.

Malfunctioning over time, due to the constant vibration, the tiny hairs eventually quit working. When these hair cells are destroyed, they are gone forever. If you lose those little hairs, there are no chemicals released to generate the electrical signal which the brain translates as sound.

What’s the story behind this hair cell destruction? There are lots of contributing factors like normal aging. How powerful a sound wave is, is generally known as “volume”. The louder 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 take a toll.

Safeguarding Your Hearing

Good hearing hygiene is an important part of protecting your ears over time. The volume of sound is the biggest problem. Sound is measured in decibels and the higher the decibel level the more dangerous the noise. Damage is caused at a substantially lower decibel level then you would realize. A noise is too loud if you have to raise your voice to talk over it.

Your hearing can be impacted later on by even a few loud minutes and even more so by continuous exposure. Taking precautions when you expect to be subjected to loud sound, luckily, is pretty easy. Wear hearing protection when you:

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

Avoid using devices made to amplify and isolate sound, also, including headphones or earbuds. A reduced volume should be chosen and use regular speakers.

Every-Day Noises That Can Become a Problem

Over time, even everyday sounds will become a hearing hazard. The noise rating should be checked before you invest in a new appliance. Try to use appliances that have a lower noise rating.

Don’t be afraid to speak up if the noise is too loud when you are at a restaurant or party. A restaurant manager may be willing to turn down the background music for you or maybe even move you to a different table away from loud speakers or clanging dishes.

Be Aware of Noise Levels at Work

At work, protect your ears if your job is loud. If your employer doesn’t provide hearing protection, buy your own. There are a few products out there that will protect you such as:

  • Earmuffs
  • Headphones
  • Earplugs

There’s a good chance that if you mention your concern, your employer will listen.

Give up Smoking

Hearing impairment is yet another good reason to give up smoking. Studies demonstrate that cigarette smokers are much more likely to get 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. Some typical culprits include:

  • Aspirin
  • Cardiac medication
  • Diuretics
  • Certain antibiotics
  • Narcotic analgesics
  • Mood stabilizers and antidepressants

There are many other items that go on this list, among them some over the counter and some prescription medications. Check the label of any pain relievers you purchase and take them only when you really need them. Ask your doctor first if you are not certain.

Be Kind to Your Body

Exercising and eating right are things you should do for your general health but they are also important to your hearing health. Cut down on the amount of sodium you eat and take your medications to deal with your high blood pressure. You have a lower risk of chronic illness, such as diabetes, if you take good care of your body and this leads to lower chances of hearing loss.

If you think you hear ringing in your ears or if you have some hearing loss, get your hearing examined. You could need hearing aids and not even know it so pay close attention to your hearing. If you notice any changes in your hearing, schedule an appointment with a hearing specialist. It’s never too late to take care of your hearing.

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