It’s typical to have hearing loss as you grow older but does it need to happen? As they begin to grow older, most adults will start to notice a change in their hearing ability. After listening to sound for years, you will start to notice even slight changes in your hearing ability. The extent of the loss and how quickly it advances is best controlled with prevention, which is true with most things in life. There are a few things you can do now that will impact your hearing later in life. It’s never too early to start or too late to care when it comes to ear health. What can you do to stop your hearing loss from getting worse?
Comprehending Hearing Loss
Recognizing what causes most hearing loss starts with finding out how the ears work. Age-associated hearing loss, medically known as presbycusis, impacts one in 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 progressively worse.
Sound comes into the ear as waves that are amplified several times before they get to the inner ear. Once there, the sound vibrates very small hairs cells, causing them to bump structures which release chemicals to create an electrical message which the brain interprets as sound.
Malfunctioning over time, due to the constant vibration, the tiny hairs eventually quit. When these hair cells are destroyed, they are gone for good. The sound is not translated into a signal that the brain can comprehend without those little vibrating hairs.
So, what brings about this deterioration of the hair cells? There are a lot of contributing variables like normal aging. The word “volume” makes reference to the strength of sound waves. If the sound is at a higher volume, then the power of the sound wave is greater, and the hair cells take more damage.
Direct exposure to loud noise isn’t the only factor. Additionally, diabetes, high blood pressure, and other chronic diseases will take a toll.
How to Take Care Of Your Hearing
Consistent hearing hygiene is a big part of taking care of your hearing over time. Volume is at the root of the issue. Sound is measured using decibels and the higher the decibel the more damaging the noise. You may believe that it takes a very loud volume to cause injury, but it actually doesn’t. A noise is too loud if you have to raise your voice to talk over it.
Even a few loud minutes, not to mention constant exposure, will be enough to cause a detrimental effect later on. Taking precautions when you expect to be exposed to loud sound, luckily, is pretty simple. Wear hearing protection when you:
- Run power tools
- Ride a motorcycle
- Do something where the noise is loud.
- Go to a concert
Headphones, earbuds, and other accessories designed to isolate and amplify sound should be avoided. A reduced volume should be chosen and use conventional speakers.
Manage The Noise Around You
Even the things around your home can generate enough noise to become an issue over time. The noise rating should be checked before you get a new appliance. It’s far better to use equipment with lower noise ratings.
If the noise is too loud while you are out at a party or restaurant, don’t be afraid to let someone know. 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
Take the proper steps to safeguard your hearing if your job subjects you to loud noises. Invest in your own hearing protection if it is not provided by your manager. There are lots of products out there that are made to protect you such as:
There’s a good chance that if you bring up the concern, your boss will listen.
Add hearing to the list of reasons you shouldn’t smoke. Studies show that cigarette smokers are much more likely to experience age-related hearing loss. This is true if you are exposed to second-hand smoke, too.
Check And Double Check Your Medications
Many medications are ototoxic, meaning they can cause damage to your ears. Several common culprits include:
- Antidepressants and mood stabilizers
- Cardiac medication
- Narcotic analgesics
- Certain antibiotics
The true list is much longer than this and consists of prescription medication and over the counter products. Only take pain relievers if you really need them and be sure to check all of the labels. If you are unsure about a drug, ask your doctor before taking it.
Be Kind to Your Body
Regular exercise and a good diet are things you should do for your general health but they are also essential to your hearing health. Do what is necessary to deal with your high blood pressure like taking your medication and lowering sodium intake. The better you take care of your body, the lower your risk of chronic illnesses that might cost you your hearing over time, like diabetes.
Lastly, have your hearing examined if you believe that you could have hearing loss or if you hear ringing in your ears. Pay close attention to your hearing because you might not even realize that you may need hearing aids. It’s never too late to start taking care of your hearing, so if you notice any change, even a small one, schedule an appointment with a hearing care professional to find out what you can do to stop it from getting worse.