Loss of hearing is normal for most people, but does it have to be that way? As they begin to grow older, most adults will notice a subtle change in their hearing. Even small changes in your ability to hear will be able to be noticed after years of hearing sound. Prevention is the best means of controlling the extent of the loss and how quickly it advances, which is true of most things in life. Your hearing will be affected later in your life by the choices you make now. As for your hearing health, it’s never too late to care or too soon to begin. What can be done to stop your hearing loss from becoming worse?
Get The Facts About Hearing Loss
It starts with recognizing how hearing works and what causes most hearing loss. Age-related hearing loss, known medically as presbycusis, is affecting 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 is slight at first and then gets worse over time.
Sound waves get to the inner ear only after having been amplified a few times by the ear canal. As it arrives, the sound shakes very small hairs cells, causing them to bump structures which release chemicals to create an electrical message which the brain translates into sound.
The drawback to all this movement and oscillation is that the hair cells ultimately break down and stop working. When these hair cells are destroyed, they are gone forever. Without those cells to create the electrical impulses, the sound is never translated into a language the brain can understand.
How exactly do these hair cells become damaged? It will happen, to some degree, with normal aging but there are other factors which will also contribute. Sound waves come in lots of strengths, however; that is what you know 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 aside from exposure to loud sound. Additionally, diabetes, high blood pressure, and other chronic diseases will take a toll.
How to Take Care Of Your Hearing
Taking care of your ears over time is dependent on consistent hearing hygiene. Sound volume presents the biggest problem. When sound is at a higher volume or decibel level, it is significantly more damaging to the ears. It doesn’t have to be as loud as you might think to lead to hearing damage. You shouldn’t need 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 continuous exposure or even just a couple of loud minutes at a time is enough to affect your hearing later on. On the plus side, it’s fairly easy to take precautions to protect your ears when you expect to be exposed to loud sound. Wear hearing protection when you:
- Go to a concert
- Ride a motorcycle
- Run power tools
- Participate in loud activities.
Avoid using devices made to amplify and isolate sound, also, including headphones and earbuds. The old-fashioned way is a much safer way to listen to music and that means at a lower volume.
Manage The Noise Around You
Enough noise can be produced, even by every-day household sounds, to become a hearing threat over time. Presently, appliances and other home devices come with noise ratings. It’s far better to use devices with lower noise ratings.
If the noise is too loud while you are out at a party or restaurant, don’t be scared to let someone know. A restaurant manager might be willing to turn down the background music for you or possibly even move you to a different table away from noisy speakers or clanging dishes.
Pay Attention to Noise Levels While at Work
If your job exposes you to loud noises like equipment, you need to do something about it. Invest in your own ear protection if it is not provided by your employer. Here are a few products that can protect your hearing:
Your employer will most likely listen if you bring up your concerns.
Hearing damage is yet another good reason to stop 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.
Double Check Medications
Ototoxic medications are known to cause damage to your ears. Some typical culprits include:
- Mood stabilizers and antidepressants
- Certain antibiotics
- Cardiac medication
- Narcotic analgesics
The complete list is quite a bit longer than this one and includes prescription medication as well as over the counter products. Only use pain relievers if you really need them and be sure to check all of the labels. Consult your doctor first if you are not certain.
Treat Your Body Well
The little things you should do anyway like eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly are an essential part of preventing hearing loss from getting worse, particularly as you get older. If you have high blood pressure, do what you must to manage it like decreasing your salt intake and taking the medication prescribed to you. The better you take care of your health, the lower your risk of chronic health problems that might cost you your hearing over time, like diabetes.
If you think you hear ringing in your ears or if you have some hearing loss, have your hearing checked. Pay close attention to your hearing because you might not even recognize that you may need hearing aids. Schedule an appointment with a hearing expert to keep any problems from getting worse. It’s never too late.