It’s typical to have hearing loss as you grow older but does it need to happen? The fact is, the majority of people will begin to perceive a change in their hearing as they age. After listening to sound for many years, you will begin to recognize even small changes in your hearing ability. 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. Later on in life, how bad your hearing loss is will be determined by the decisions you make now. It’s never too soon to begin or too late to care when it comes to hearing health. You really want to keep your hearing from getting worse, but what can you do?
Get The Facts About Hearing Loss
It starts with learning about how the ears work and what causes most hearing loss. Age-associated hearing loss, medically known as presbycusis, is affecting one in three people in America from 64 to 74. It is a cumulation of damage to the ears over time. Presbycusis starts slowly and then gets worse over time.
The ear canal amplifies waves of sound several times before they get to the inner ear. As it arrives, the sound vibrates very small hairs cells, causing them to bump into structures which release chemicals to create an electrical message which the brain interprets as sound.
The drawback to all this shaking and oscillation is that the hair cells eventually break down and stop working. Once these hair cells are gone they won’t come back. Without those cells to create the electrical impulses, the sound can’t be translated into a language the brain can understand.
What’s the story behind this hair cell damage? It will happen, to varying degrees, with normal aging but there are other things which will also contribute. The word “volume” makes reference to the power of sound waves. The higher the volume, the more powerful the sound wave and the bigger the injury to the hair cells.
There are some other factors besides exposure to loud noise. Additionally, diabetes, high blood pressure, and other chronic ailments will take a toll.
Safeguarding Your Hearing
You need to rely on strong hearing hygiene to take care of your ears over time. Volume is at the root of the issue. Sound is a lot more dangerous when it’s at a louder volume or decibel level. You may think that it takes a very loud decibel level to cause damage, but it actually doesn’t. If you find that you have to raise your voice to talk over a noise, it’s too loud.
Your hearing will be affected later on by even a few loud minutes and even more so by continuous exposure. The good news is protecting your ears from expected loud noises is really easy. Use hearing protection when you:
- Ride a motorcycle
- Run power tools
- Go to a concert
- Do something where the noise is loud.
Avoid using accessories made to amplify and isolate sound, too, like headphones or earbuds. Partake of music the old-fashioned way and at a lower volume.
Manage The Noise Around You
Even the items around your house can produce enough noise to be a threat over time. When you buy an appliance for your house, check the noise rating of the product. It’s much better to use appliances with lower noise ratings.
If the noise is too loud while you are out at a party or restaurant, don’t be afraid to speak up. A restaurant manager may be willing to turn the background music down for you or possibly move you to a different table away from noisy speakers or clanging dishes.
Pay Attention to Noise Levels at Work
If your job subjects you to loud sounds like equipment, you should do something about it. If your company doesn’t provide hearing protection, get your own. Here are a few products that can protect your ears:
The chances are good that if you mention your concern, your boss will listen.
Add hearing to the list of reasons you shouldn’t smoke. Studies show that smokers are much more likely to get age-related hearing loss. Second-hand smoke can also speed up hearing loss.
Be Certain to Look Closely at Medications That You Take
Many medications are ototoxic, meaning they damage your ears. Some typical offenders include:
- Certain antibiotics
- Antidepressants and mood stabilizers
- Narcotic analgesics
- Cardiac medication
There are many other items that go on this list, among them some over the counter and some prescription medications. Check the label of any pain relievers you purchase and use them only when necessary. Ask your doctor first if you are uncertain.
Be Good to Your Body
Exercising and eating right are things you should do anyway but they are also essential to your hearing health. Do what is required to deal with your high blood pressure like taking your medication and decreasing sodium consumption. 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 that you hear ringing in your ears or if you have some hearing loss, get your hearing examined. The sooner you acknowledge there is a problem, the sooner you can do something about it, like getting hearing aids. If you notice any changes in your hearing, schedule an appointment with a hearing specialist. It’s not too late to take care of your hearing.