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

Loss of hearing is normal for most people, but does it have to be that way? The truth is, the majority of people will begin to detect a change in their hearing as they age. After listening to sound for years, you will start to notice even small changes in your hearing ability. Prevention is the best method of managing the extent of the loss and how rapidly it advances, which is true of most things in life. Later on in life, the extent of your hearing loss will depend on the choices you make now. It’s never too early to begin or too late to care when it comes to hearing health. You really want to keep your hearing from becoming worse, but what can be done?

Learn About Your Hearing Loss

Knowing what causes the majority of hearing loss begins with finding out how the ears actually work. Age-related hearing loss, medically known as presbycusis, impacts one in three people in this country between the ages of 64 and 74. It is a cumulation of damage to the ears over the years. Presbycusis is slight at first and then gets worse over time.

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

The downside to all this shaking and oscillation is that the hair cells ultimately break down and stop working. When these hair cells are destroyed, they are gone for good. Without those cells to create the electrical signals, the sound can’t be translated into a language the brain can comprehend.

What’s behind this hair cell damage? It can be considerably increased by several factors but it can be anticipated, to varying degrees, as a part of aging. How strong a sound wave is, is known as “volume”. More damage is done to the hair cells if they receive stronger sound waves, and that means a higher volume of sound.

Loud noise is surely a consideration but there are others too. Additionally, diabetes, high blood pressure, and other chronic illnesses will have a strong effect.

Protecting Your Hearing

You need to rely on good hearing hygiene to safeguard your ears over time. At the root of the problem is volume. Sound is measured using decibels and the higher the decibel level the more damaging the noise. You might believe 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.

Your hearing can be affected later on by even a couple of loud minutes and even more so by frequent exposure. Taking precautions when you expect to be subjected to loud sound, fortunately, is pretty simple. Wear hearing protection when you:

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

Headphones, earbuds, and other devices made to isolate and amplify sound should be avoided. The old-fashioned way is a less dangerous way to partake of music and that means at a lower volume.

Manage The Noise Around You

Over time, even household sounds will become a hearing threat. When you get an appliance for your home, check the noise rating of the product. The lower the noise rating the better.

If the noise gets too loud when you are out at a party or restaurant, don’t be afraid to speak up. The party’s host, or perhaps even the restaurant manager might be willing to help accommodate for your issue.

Pay Attention to Noise Levels While at Work

Take steps to safeguard your hearing if your job exposes you to loud noises. If your company doesn’t provide hearing protection, buy your own. Here are several products that will protect your hearing:

  • Earplugs
  • Earmuffs
  • Headphones

There’s a good chance that if you bring up the concern, your manager will listen.

Give up Smoking

Hearing impairment is yet another good reason to give up smoking. Studies show that smokers are much more likely to get age-related hearing loss. This is true if you are subjected to second-hand smoke, also.

All The Medications That You Take Should be Closely Evaluated

Ototoxic medications are known to cause damage to your ears. Several typical offenders include:

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

This list is a mix of over-the-counter products and prescription medications and it’s not even all of them. Only use pain relievers if you really need them and be sure to read all of the labels. If you are not sure about a drug, ask 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 relevant to your hearing health. Do what is necessary to deal with your high blood pressure like taking your medication and lowering sodium consumption. 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 problems.

If you believe that you hear ringing in your ears or if you have some hearing loss, have your hearing tested. Pay close attention to your hearing because you might not even know that you need hearing aids. It’s never too late to take 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 even worse.

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