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 start to perceive a change in their hearing as they age. After listening to sound for years, you will begin to recognize even slight changes in your ability to hear. The extent of the loss and how rapidly it advances is best controlled with prevention, as is true with most things in life. There are some things you can do now that will impact your hearing later on in life. You should carefully consider it sooner than later because you can still prevent further loss of hearing. You really want to keep your hearing from becoming worse, but what can be done?
Learn About Your Hearing Loss
Knowing what causes most hearing loss starts with finding out how the ears work. Age-related hearing loss, medically known as presbycusis, is affecting one in every three people in this country from 64 to 74. It is a cumulation of damage to the ears over time. Presbycusis is slight at first and then gets progressively worse.
Sound waves reach the inner ear only after being amplified several times by the ear canal. Sound waves vibrate tiny hairs which bump into chemical releasing structures. These chemicals are translated into electrical signals which the brain interprets as sound.
The negative aspect to all this shaking and oscillation is that the hair cells eventually break down and stop working. These hair cells don’t heal themselves, either, so once they’re gone, they don’t come back. The sound is not converted into a language that the brain can comprehend without those little vibrating hairs.
How exactly do these hair cells get damaged? It can be greatly magnified by several factors but it can be anticipated, to varying degrees, with aging. How strong a sound wave is, is known as “volume”. If the sound is at a higher volume, then the power of the sound wave is greater, and the hair cells take more damage.
Direct exposure to loud noise isn’t the only factor. Also, diabetes, high blood pressure, and other chronic diseases will have a strong effect.
How to Take Care Of Your Hearing
You should depend on good hearing hygiene to protect your ears over time. The volume of sound is the biggest problem. When sound is at a higher volume or decibel level, it is significantly more detrimental to the ears. Damage happens at a much lower decibel level then you may think. You shouldn’t need to raise your voice to talk over another sound. If you do that sound is too loud.
Your hearing can be affected later on by even a few loud minutes and even more so by frequent exposure. Fortunately protecting your ears from expected loud noises is really easy. Wear hearing protection when you:
- Ride a motorcycle
- Participate in loud activities.
- Run power tools
- Go to a performance
Headphones, earbuds, and other accessories designed to isolate and amplify sound should be avoided. Listen to music the old-fashioned way and at a lower volume.
Every-Day Noises That Can be an Issue
Over time, even everyday sounds will become a hearing hazard. When you buy an appliance for your home, check the noise rating of the product. It’s far better to use appliances with lower noise ratings.
If the noise gets too loud while you are out at a party or restaurant, don’t be scared to speak up. The party’s host, or possibly even the restaurant manager might be willing to help accommodate for your issue.
Be Conscious of Noise While at Work
At work, protect your ears if your work-place is loud. 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.
Hearing damage is yet another good reason to give up smoking. Studies demonstrate that smokers are much more likely to get age-related hearing loss. Second-hand smoke can also speed up hearing loss.
Look Twice at Medications
Some medications are ototoxic, meaning they damage your ears. A few typical culprits include:
- Mood stabilizers and antidepressants
- Cardiac medication
- Certain antibiotics
- Narcotic analgesics
This list is a mix of over-the-counter products and prescription medications and it’s not even all of them. If you use pain relievers, do so only when necessary and check the labels. If you are not sure about a drug, ask your doctor before taking it.
Treat Your Body Well
Exercising and eating right are things you should do anyway but they are also important to your hearing health. Do what is necessary to manage your high blood pressure like taking your medication and decreasing sodium intake. 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 suspect you hear ringing in your ears or if you have some hearing loss, get your hearing tested. You may need hearing aids and not even know it so pay attention to your hearing. Schedule an appointment with a hearing expert to keep any problems from getting even worse. It’s not too late.