It’s typical to have hearing loss as you get older but is it necessary? As they begin to grow older, most adults will notice a change in their hearing ability. Even small changes in your hearing ability will be able to be noticed after years of hearing sound. The extent of the loss and how fast it advances is best managed with prevention, which is true with most things in life. Your hearing can be affected later on in your life by the choices you make now. You should carefully consider it now because you can still prevent further loss of hearing. You want to keep your hearing from getting worse, but what can you do?
Get The Facts About Hearing Loss
Understanding how the ears work is step one to understanding what causes most hearing loss. Age-related hearing loss, known medically as presbycusis, affects one in three people in this country from 64 to 74. It is an accumulation of damage to the ears over time. Presbycusis is slight at first and then gets progressively worse.
The ear canal amplifies sound waves several times before they make it to the inner ear. As it arrives, the sound shakes very small hairs cells, causing them to bump into structures that release chemicals to create an electrical message which the brain translates into sound.
Failing over time, because of the constant vibration, the tiny hairs finally quit working. These hair cells won’t repair themselves, either, so once they’re gone, they don’t come back. Without those cells to create the electrical signals, the sound can’t be translated into a language the brain can comprehend.
So, what brings about this deterioration of the hair cells? There are many contributing factors including normal aging. Sound waves come in a variety of strengths, however; that is what you know 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 considerations besides exposure to loud sound. Chronic illnesses such as high blood pressure and diabetes have an affect, as well.
How to Protect Your Hearing
Consistent hearing hygiene is an important part of protecting your ears over time. Sound volume presents the biggest problem. When sound is at a higher volume or decibel level, it is significantly more detrimental to the ears. Damage is caused at a much lower decibel level then you may realize. If you find that you have to raise your voice to talk over a noise, it’s too loud.
Your hearing can be impacted later on by even a few loud minutes and even more so by frequent exposure. Luckily, it’s fairly easy to take safety measures to protect your ears when you know you’re going to be around loud sound. Use hearing protection when you:
- Run power equipment
- Ride a motorcycle
- Participate in loud activities.
- Go to a concert
Avoid using accessories made to amplify and isolate sound, too, including headphones and earbuds. A reduced volume should be chosen and use conventional speakers.
Control The Noise Around You
Over time, even household sounds can become a hearing threat. The noise rating should be taken into consideration before you buy a new appliance. The lower the rating the better.
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 even move you to a different table away from noisy speakers or clanging dishes.
Be Aware of Noise Levels at Work
If your job exposes you to loud noises like equipment, then do something about it. Invest in your own ear protection if it’s not provided by your boss. There are plenty of products out there that will protect you such as:
Your employer will most likely listen if you bring up your worries.
Give up Smoking
Hearing impairment is yet another good reason to give up smoking. Studies reveal that cigarette smokers are much more likely to get age-related hearing loss. Second-hand smoke can also speed up hearing loss.
Double Check Medications
Certain medications are ototoxic, meaning they can cause damage to your ears. A few common offenders include:
- Narcotic analgesics
- Certain antibiotics
- Mood stabilizers and antidepressants
- Cardiac medication
The complete list is much longer than this and includes prescription medication and over the counter products. If you use pain relievers, do so only when necessary and read the labels. If you are unsure about a drug, ask your doctor before taking it.
Treat Your Body Well
To prevent hearing loss it’s particularly important, as you get older, to do the normal things that keep you healthy, like eating right and exercising. If you have high blood pressure, do what you can to manage it like decreasing your sodium intake and taking the medication prescribed to you. 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 problems.
If you think you hear ringing in your ears or if you have some hearing loss, get your hearing checked. The sooner you know there is a problem, the sooner you can do something about it, such as getting hearing aids. 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.