How Can You Prevent Hearing Loss From Getting Even Worse?

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

Hearing loss is not actually inescapable, although it is quite common. The truth is, the majority of adults will begin to recognize a change in their hearing as they age. That change is simply the effect of a lot of years of listening to sound. The degree of the loss and how rapidly it advances is best managed with prevention, as is true with most things in life. Later in your life, the extent of your hearing loss will depend on the decisions you make now. You should carefully consider it now because you can still protect against further hearing loss. What steps can you take now to safeguard your hearing?

Comprehending Hearing Loss

Recognizing what causes most hearing loss begins with finding out how the ears actually work. Age-associated 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 starts slowly and then gets worse over time.

Sound waves get to the inner ear only after being amplified a few times by the ear canal. Sound waves wiggle little hairs which bump against chemical releasing structures. These chemicals are transformed into electrical signals that the brain interprets as sound.

Failing over time, because of the constant vibration, the tiny hairs eventually quit working. Once these hair cells are lost they won’t come back. The sound is not translated into a language that the brain can comprehend without those little vibrating hairs.

So, what causes this destruction of the hair cells? There are many contributing factors such as normal aging. The word “volume” makes reference to the power of sound waves. The louder the volume, the more powerful the sound wave and the bigger the injury to the hair cells.

Direct exposure to loud noise isn’t the only factor to consider. Chronic sicknesses like high blood pressure and diabetes take a toll, as well.

Safeguarding Your Hearing

You should depend on consistent hearing hygiene to protect your ears over time. At the center of the issue is volume. Sound is measured in decibels and the higher the decibel level the more hazardous the noise. You might think that it takes a very high volume to cause damage, but it actually doesn’t. You shouldn’t need to raise your voice to talk over another sound. If you do that sound is too loud.

Even a few loud minutes, not to mention frequent exposure, will be enough to cause an adverse effect later on. The good news is protecting your hearing from expected loud noises is pretty easy. Wear hearing protection when you:

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

Avoid using accessories designed to amplify and isolate sound, also, like headphones and earbuds. A reduced volume should be chosen and use conventional speakers.

Every-Day Noises That Can be a Problem

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 rating the better.

If you are out at a restaurant or party, don’t be scared to tell someone if the noise is too loud. The host of the party, or possibly even the restaurant manager will probably be willing to help accommodate for your issue.

Be Aware of Noise Levels at Work

Take the proper steps to protect your hearing if your job subjects you to loud noises. If your boss doesn’t provide hearing protection, buy your own. Here are several products that will protect your ears:

  • Earplugs
  • Headphones
  • Earmuffs

Your employer will most likely be willing to listen if you bring up your concerns.

Quit Smoking

There are lots of good reasons to stop smoking and you can add hearing loss to the long list. Studies reveal that smokers are much more likely to get age-related hearing loss. If you are subjected to second-hand smoke this is also true.

All The Medications That You Take Should be Closely Evaluated

Some medications are ototoxic, meaning they damage your ears. Some typical offenders include:

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

The complete list is quite a bit longer than this and consists of prescription medication and over the counter medicines. Only use pain relievers if you really need them and make sure you check all of the labels. If you are unsure about a drug, consult your doctor before taking it.

Treat Your Body Well

The little things you should do anyway like eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly are an important part of preventing hearing loss from getting worse, especially as you get older. Lower the amount of salt you eat and take your medications to manage your high blood pressure. The better you care for your body, the lower your risk of chronic sicknesses that could cost you your hearing over time, like diabetes.

Last but not least, get your hearing tested if you believe you could have hearing loss or if you hear ringing in your ears. Pay close attention to your hearing because you might not even recognize that you need hearing aids. Schedule an appointment with a hearing expert to keep any problems from getting even worse. It’s never too late.

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