It’s normal to have hearing loss as you grow older but is it necessary? The fact is, the majority of people will start to become aware of a change in their hearing as they get older. That change is simply the effect of many years of listening to sound. Prevention is the best means of managing the extent of the loss and how quickly it progresses, which is the case with most things in life. Your hearing can be affected later in your life by the choices you make now. Concerning the health of your ears, it’s never too late to care or too early to begin. What are the steps you can take now to safeguard your hearing?
Learn About Your Hearing Loss
Learning how the ears work is step one to knowing what causes most hearing loss. Age-related hearing loss, known medically as presbycusis, impacts one in every three people in the U.S. between the ages of 64 and 74. It is a cumulation of damage to the ears over time. Presbycusis is slight at first and then gets progressively worse.
Sound waves reach the inner ear only after having been amplified several times by the ear canal. As it arrives, 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.
All of this rumbling inevitably causes the hairs to begin to break down and malfunction. Once these hair cells are gone they won’t come back. If there are no little hairs, there are no chemicals released to create the electrical signal which the brain interprets as sound.
So, what causes this damage to the hair cells? It will happen, to some extent, with aging but there are other things which will also contribute. How strong a sound wave is, is generally known as “volume”. 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 factors apart from exposure to loud sound. Additionally, diabetes, high blood pressure, and other chronic ailments will have a strong effect.
How to Take Care Of Your Hearing
Safeguarding your hearing over time is dependent on good hearing hygiene. Volume is at the heart of the issue. Sound is measured using decibels and the higher the decibel the more hazardous the noise. Damage is caused at a much lower decibel level then you may realize. If you notice that you have to raise your voice to talk over a noise, it’s too loud.
Everyone has to cope with the random loud noise but continued exposure or even just a few loud minutes at a time is sufficient to affect your hearing later in life. Fortunately protecting your hearing from expected loud noises is really easy. Use hearing protection when you:
- Ride a motorcycle
- Go to a performance
- Do something where the noise is loud.
- Run power tools
Headphones, earbuds, and other accessories designed to isolate and amplify sound should be avoided. A lower volume should be chosen and use regular speakers.
Day-to-Day Noises That Can Become an Issue
Enough noise can be produced, even by every-day household sounds, to become a hearing threat over time. Nowadays, appliances and other home devices have noise ratings. The lower the rating the better.
Don’t be afraid to speak up if the noise is too loud when you are at a restaurant or party. A restaurant manager may 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
When you’re working, protect your ears if your job is loud. Invest in your own hearing protection if it is not provided by your boss. Here are a few products that can protect your hearing:
If you bring up the situation, it’s likely that your manager will listen.
Hearing impairment is yet another good reason to quit smoking. Studies demonstrate that cigarette 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 Examined
Some medications are known to cause hearing damage. This is called ototoxicity. Some typical offenders include:
- Antidepressants and mood stabilizers
- Cardiac medication
- Narcotic analgesics
- Certain antibiotics
This list is a combination of over-the-counter products and prescription medications and it’s not even all of them. If you take pain relievers, do so only when necessary and read the labels. Ask your doctor first if you are not certain.
Take Good Care of Your Health
Exercising and eating right are things you should do anyway but they are also essential to your hearing health. Lower the amount of salt you consume and take your medications to manage your high blood pressure. 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.
If you believe you hear ringing in your ears or if you have some hearing loss, have your hearing checked. You might need hearing aids and not even know it so pay close attention to your hearing. If you notice any changes in your hearing, schedule an appointment with a hearing specialist. It’s never too late to take care of your hearing.