How Can You Stop Hearing Loss From Getting Even Worse?

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

Hearing loss is not actually inevitable, even though it is common. As they begin to grow older, most adults will start to notice a subtle change in their hearing. That change is really the effect of years and years of listening to sound. Like most things in life, though, prevention is the answer to controlling the degree of that loss and how quickly it advances. Your hearing can be affected later in life by the things you decide to do now. It’s never too soon to start or too late to care when it comes to hearing health. What steps can you take right now to safeguard your hearing?

Get The Facts About Hearing Loss

Knowing what causes most hearing loss begins with finding out how the ears actually work. Age-related hearing loss, known medically as presbycusis, is affecting one in three people in the U.S. between the ages of 64 and 74. It is an accumulation of damage to the ears over the years. Presbycusis is slight at first and then gets worse over time.

Sound goes into the ear in waves that are amplified several times before they finally get to the inner ear. 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.

Malfunctioning over time, because of the constant vibration, the tiny hairs finally quit working. Once these hair cells are lost they won’t grow back. Without those cells to generate the electrical signals, the sound is never translated into a language the brain can comprehend.

How exactly do these hair cells get damaged? It can be considerably increased by several factors but it can be expected, to varying degrees, with 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.

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

Safeguarding Your Hearing

Good hearing hygiene is an important part of protecting your ears over time. At the center of the issue is volume. When sound is at a higher volume or decibel level, it is significantly more detrimental to the ears. You might think that it takes a very high decibel level to cause damage, but it doesn’t. A noise is too loud if you have to raise your voice to talk over it.

Everyone deals with the random loud noise but continuous exposure or even just a couple of loud minutes at a time is sufficient to impact your hearing later on. Taking precautions when you expect to be exposed to loud sound, luckily, is pretty easy. Use hearing protection when you:

  • Participate in loud activities.
  • Ride a motorcycle
  • Run power tools
  • Go to a performance

Avoid using devices designed to amplify and isolate sound, too, like headphones or earbuds. The old-fashioned way is a much safer way to listen to music and that means at a reduced volume.

Day-to-Day Noises That Can be a Problem

Over time, even everyday sounds will become a hearing hazard. Presently, appliances and other home devices come with noise ratings. The lower the noise rating the better.

If you are out at a crowded restaurant or party, don’t be scared to tell someone if the noise is too loud. A restaurant manager might be willing to turn the background music down for you or even move you to another table away from noisy speakers or clanging dishes.

Be Aware of Noise Levels at Work

At work, protect your ears if your job is loud. Buy your own hearing protection if it’s not provided by your employer. Here are some products that can protect your ears:

  • Headphones
  • Earplugs
  • Earmuffs

The chances are good that if you mention your concern, your manager will listen.

Give up Smoking

Add hearing to the list of reasons you shouldn’t smoke. Studies reveal that cigarette smokers are much more likely to get age-related hearing loss. This is true if you are exposed to second-hand smoke, too.

Check And Double Check Your Medications

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

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

There are many other examples that go on this list, including some over the counter and some prescription medications. Check the label of any pain relievers you buy and use them only when necessary. Ask your doctor first if you are unsure.

Be Kind to Your Body

The little things you should do anyway like eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly are a major part of preventing hearing loss from getting worse, particularly as you get older. Do what is necessary to deal with your high blood pressure like taking your medication and decreasing sodium consumption. You have a lower risk of chronic health problems, such as diabetes, if you take good care of your body and this leads to lower chances of hearing loss.

If you think you have hearing loss or if you hear ringing in your ears, get a hearing test. The sooner you acknowledge there is a problem, the sooner you can do something about it, such as getting hearing aids. If you observe any changes in your hearing, schedule an appointment with a hearing specialist. It’s not too late to take care of your hearing.

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