Hearing loss is common for most people, but does it have to be that way? The fact is, the majority of people will begin to notice a change in their hearing as they age. After listening to sound for many years, you will notice even slight changes in your hearing ability. The degree of the loss and how quickly it advances is best managed with prevention, as is true with most things in life. Later on in life, how bad your hearing loss is will be determined by the choices you make now. You should think about it sooner than later because you can still avoid further hearing loss. What can be done to keep your hearing loss from getting worse?
Understanding Hearing Loss
Understanding how the ears work is the first step to understanding what causes most hearing loss. Age-associated hearing loss, known medically as presbycusis, affects one in three people in this country from 64 to 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 pressure waves that are amplified several times before they finally get to the inner ear. Chemicals are secreted after being bumped by little hairs, which are in turn shaken by inbound waves of sound. These chemicals are interpreted by the brain as electrical signals, which are then “heard” by the brain as sound.
The drawback to all this movement and vibrating is that the hair cells eventually break down and stop working. Once these hair cells are gone they won’t grow back. Without those cells to create the electrical impulses, the sound can’t be translated into a language the brain can understand.
So, what leads to this destruction of the hair cells? There are a lot of contributing variables such as ordinary aging. The term “volume” makes reference to the power of sound waves. More damage is done to the hair cells if they receive more powerful sound waves, and that means a higher volume of sound.
There are some other considerations aside from exposure to loud sound. Also, 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 protecting your ears over time. At the root of the problem is volume. When sound is at a higher volume or decibel level, it is exponentially more damaging to the ears. You might think that it takes a very high volume to cause damage, but it doesn’t. If you notice that you have to raise your voice to talk over a noise, it’s too loud.
Your hearing will be impaired later on by even a couple of loud minutes and even more so by continued exposure. Fortunately protecting your ears from expected loud noises is really easy. Wear hearing protection when you:
- Run power equipment
- Do something where the noise is loud.
- Ride a motorcycle
- Go to a concert
Avoid using devices made to amplify and isolate sound, too, like headphones and earbuds. Partake of music the old-fashioned way and at a lesser volume.
Control The Noise Around You
Even the items around your house can generate enough noise to become a threat over time. When you get an appliance for your house, check the noise rating of the product. It’s much better to use appliances with lower noise ratings.
Don’t worry about speaking up if the noise gets too loud when you are at a restaurant or party. A restaurant manager might be willing to turn the background music down for you or maybe even move you to another table away from noisy speakers or clanging dishes.
Pay Attention to Noise Levels While at Work
Take the proper steps to protect your hearing if your job subjects you to loud sounds. If your company doesn’t provide hearing protection, get your own. Here are several products that will protect your ears:
If you bring up the worries, it’s likely that your manager will listen.
Put hearing health on the long list of reasons to quit smoking. Studies demonstrate that cigarette smokers are much more likely to get age-related hearing loss. This is true if you are subjected to second-hand smoke, as well.
Check And Double Check Your Medications
Some medications are known to cause hearing damage. This is called ototoxicity. Some common offenders include:
- Cardiac medication
- Mood stabilizers and antidepressants
- Certain antibiotics
- Narcotic analgesics
There are many others that go on this list, including some over the counter and some prescription medications. If you take pain relievers, do so only when necessary and read the labels. Ask your doctor first if you are not certain.
Treat Your Body Well
To slow down hearing loss it’s especially important, as you get older, to do the normal things that keep you healthy, like eating right and getting regular exercise. If you have high blood pressure, do what you can to manage it like reducing your sodium intake and taking the medication prescribed to you. The better you care for your health, the lower your risk of chronic illnesses that could cost you your hearing over time, like diabetes.
If you think you have hearing loss or if you have ringing in your ears, get a hearing test. Pay close attention to your hearing because you may not even recognize 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 to do to keep it from getting more serious.