It’s normal to have hearing loss as you grow older but does it need to happen? The reality is, the majority of people will begin to recognize a change in their hearing as they get older. After listening to sound for many years, you will begin to recognize even slight changes in your hearing ability. The degree of the loss and how quickly it advances is best controlled with prevention, which is true with most things in life. Your hearing will be affected later in your life by the choices you make now. Concerning your hearing health, it’s never too late to care or too early to start. What can be done to prevent your hearing loss from getting worse?
Comprehending Hearing Loss
Understanding what causes most hearing loss starts with finding out how the ears work. Age-related hearing loss, known medically as presbycusis, affects one in every three people in America from 64 to 74. It is an accumulation of damage to the ears over the years. Presbycusis is slight at first and then gets worse over time.
The ear canal amplifies waves of sound several times before they get to the inner ear. Sound waves move very little hairs that bump against chemical releasing structures. These chemicals are translated into electrical signals that the brain interprets as sound.
All of this rumbling inevitably causes the hairs to begin to break down and malfunction. These hair cells won’t heal themselves, either, so once gone, they don’t come back. Without those cells to create the electrical signals, the sound is never translated into a language the brain can comprehend.
How exactly do these hair cells become damaged? It can be greatly magnified by several factors but it can be anticipated, to some degree, with aging. Sound waves come in numerous strengths, however; that is what you know as volume. If the sound is at a higher volume, then the strength of the sound wave is greater, and the hair cells take more damage.
There are some other considerations besides exposure to loud noise. Also, diabetes, high blood pressure, and other chronic ailments will have a strong effect.
How to Take Care Of Your Hearing
You need to depend on consistent hearing hygiene to protect your ears over time. Sound volume presents the biggest problem. Sound is measured in decibels and the higher the decibel level the more damaging the noise. Damage happens at a far lower decibel level then you may think. You shouldn’t have to raise your voice to talk over another sound. If you do that sound is too loud.
Even just a few loud minutes, never mind constant exposure, will be enough to cause an adverse effect later on. On the plus side, it’s fairly easy to take precautions to protect your ears when you expect to be exposed to loud sound. Use hearing protection when you:
- Go to a concert
- Ride a motorcycle
- Participate in loud activities.
- Run power tools
Avoid using devices designed to amplify and isolate sound, also, like headphones and earbuds. A lower volume should be chosen and use regular speakers.
Every-Day Noises That Can Become a Problem
Even the items around your house can generate enough noise to be a threat over time. The noise rating should be checked before you buy a new appliance. The lower the noise rating the better.
If the noise is too loud when you are out at a party or restaurant, don’t be scared 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.
Be Aware of Noise Levels at Work
Take steps to protect your hearing if your job subjects you to loud noises. Get your own ear protection if it’s not provided by your employer. There are lots of products out there that are made to protect you such as:
Your employer will probably listen if you bring up your worries.
There are lots of good reasons to give up smoking and you can add hearing loss to the long list. Studies reveal that smokers are much more likely to get age-related hearing loss. If you are exposed to second-hand smoke this is also true.
All The Medications That You Take Should be Closely Evaluated
Ototoxic medications are known to cause damage to your ears. Several typical culprits include:
- Narcotic analgesics
- Mood stabilizers and antidepressants
- Cardiac medication
- Certain antibiotics
There are many other items that go on this list, including some over the counter and some prescription medications. If you use pain relievers, do so only when necessary and check the labels. Consult your doctor first if you are not sure.
Take Good Care of Your Health
Exercising and eating right are things you should do for your general health but they are also important to your hearing health. Decrease the amount of sodium you consume and take your medications to deal with your high blood pressure. The better you care for your health, the lower your risk of chronic sicknesses that could cost you your hearing over time, like diabetes.
If you have hearing loss or if you have ringing in your ears, get a hearing exam. Pay close attention to your hearing because you may not even recognize that you need hearing aids. Schedule an appointment with a hearing expert to keep any issues from getting even worse. It’s not too late.