It’s typical to have hearing loss as you grow older but does it need to happen? The truth is, the majority of people will start to become aware of a change in their hearing as they age. That change is simply the effect of a lot of years of listening to sound. Prevention is the best method of controlling the extent of the loss and how rapidly it progresses, which is the case with most things in life. There are some things you can do now that will affect your hearing later on in life. You should think about it sooner than later because you can still prevent further hearing loss. What can be done to keep your hearing loss from getting worse?
Learn About Your Hearing Loss
It begins with understanding how hearing works and what causes most loss of hearing. Age-associated hearing loss, medically known as presbycusis, impacts one in every three people in America from 64 to 74. It is a cumulation of damage to the ears over the years. Presbycusis starts slowly and then gets progressively worse.
The ear canal amplifies sound waves several times before they make it to the inner ear. Sound waves oscillate little hairs which bump into chemical releasing structures. These chemicals are transformed into electrical signals that the brain interprets as sound.
All of this vibration eventually causes the hairs to start to break down and malfunction. These hair cells don’t repair themselves, either, so once gone, they’re gone. If you lose those tiny hairs, there are no chemicals released to create the electrical signal which the brain interprets as sound.
What’s behind this hair cell destruction? There are lots of contributing variables such as ordinary aging. The term “volume” makes reference to the power 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.
There are some other considerations aside from exposure to loud sound. Also, diabetes, high blood pressure, and other chronic illnesses will take a toll.
Safeguarding Your Hearing
Taking care of your hearing over time is dependent on good hearing hygiene. The volume of sound is the biggest problem. When sound is at a higher volume or decibel level, it is exponentially more detrimental to the ears. Damage happens at a far lower decibel level then you might think. A noise is too loud if you have to raise your voice to talk over it.
Everyone has to cope with the random loud noise but continuous exposure or even just a few loud minutes at a time is enough to impact your hearing later in life. Luckily, it’s quite easy to take precautions to protect your hearing when you expect to be around loud sound. Wear hearing protection when you:
- Ride a motorcycle
- Participate in loud activities.
- Go to a performance
- Run power equipment
Headphones, earbuds, and other devices designed to isolate and amplify sound should be avoided. Partake of music the old-fashioned way and at a lesser volume.
Every-Day Noises That Can Become a Problem
Over time, even everyday sounds can become a hearing threat. Presently, appliances and other home devices come with noise ratings. The lower the noise rating the better.
If the noise gets too loud while you are out at a party or restaurant, don’t be scared to let someone know. A restaurant manager might be willing to turn down the background music for you or possibly even move you to a different table away from loud speakers or clanging dishes.
Pay Attention to Noise Levels at Work
If your job exposes you to loud noises like equipment, you should do something about it. If your employer doesn’t provide hearing protection, buy your own. Here are some products that will protect your hearing:
Your employer will most likely listen if you bring up your worries.
Add hearing to the list of reasons to quit smoking. Studies reveal 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
Ototoxic medications are known to cause damage to your ears. A few typical culprits include:
- Cardiac medication
- Certain antibiotics
- Narcotic analgesics
- Mood stabilizers and antidepressants
There are many other examples that go on this list, among them some over the counter and some prescription medications. Read the label of any pain relievers you buy and take them only when you really need them. If you are uncertain about a drug, ask your doctor before taking it.
Take Good Care of Your Body
The common things you should do anyway like eating right and exercise are an essential part of preventing hearing loss from getting worse, particularly as you get older. If you have high blood pressure, do what you can to manage it like lowering your sodium intake and taking the medication prescribed to you. The better you take care of your health, the lower your risk of chronic sicknesses that could cost you your hearing over time, like diabetes.
If you believe that 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. Schedule an appointment with a hearing expert to keep any problems from getting even worse. It’s not too late.