It’s typical to have hearing loss as you grow older but is it necessary? The fact is, the majority of adults will start to perceive a change in their hearing as they get older. After listening to sound for years, you will notice even slight changes in your hearing ability. Prevention is the best way of managing the extent of the loss and how rapidly it progresses, which is the case with most things in life. Later in your life, the extent of your hearing loss will depend on the choices you make now. When it comes to your hearing health, it’s never too late to care or too early to start. You really want to keep your hearing from getting worse, but what can be done?
Comprehending Hearing Loss
It begins with understanding how hearing works and what causes most hearing loss. Age-associated hearing loss, known medically as presbycusis, affects one in three people in America between the ages of 64 and 74. It is an accumulation of damage to the ears over time. Presbycusis is slight at first and then gets progressively worse.
Sound comes into the ear as pressure waves that are amplified a number of times before they get to the inner ear. Once there, the sound jiggles very small hairs cells, causing them to bump structures which release chemicals to create an electrical message which the brain translates into sound.
Failing over time, because of the constant vibration, the tiny hairs eventually quit. These hair cells won’t fix themselves, either, so once gone, they’re gone. Without those cells to produce the electrical impulses, the sound is never translated into a language the brain can understand.
How exactly do these hair cells get damaged? There are lots of contributing factors such as ordinary aging. Sound waves come in various strengths, though; that is what’s 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.
Loud noise is surely a factor but there are others too. Also, diabetes, high blood pressure, and other chronic ailments will take a toll.
How to Protect Your Hearing
You need to depend on consistent hearing hygiene to protect your ears over time. The volume of sound is the biggest problem. Sound is far more unsafe when it’s at a louder volume or decibel level. You may think that it takes a very high decibel level to cause damage, but it actually doesn’t. A noise is too loud if you have to raise your voice to talk over it.
Even just a few loud minutes, not to mention frequent exposure, will be enough to have an adverse effect later on. Taking precautions when you expect to be subjected to loud sound, fortunately, is pretty easy. Use hearing protection when you:
- Do something where the noise is loud.
- Go to a performance
- Ride a motorcycle
- Run power equipment
Avoid using devices designed to amplify and isolate sound, also, including headphones or earbuds. The old-fashioned way is a less dangerous way to listen to music and that means at a lower volume.
Every-Day Noises That Can Become a Problem
Over time, even everyday sounds will become a hearing threat. When you get an appliance for your home, consider the noise rating of the product. It’s far better to use appliances with lower noise ratings.
Don’t worry about speaking up if the noise gets too loud when you are at a restaurant or party. A restaurant manager may be willing to turn down the background music for you or possibly even move you to another table away from loud speakers or clanging dishes.
Be Noise Conscious When You Are at Work
Take the proper steps to protect your hearing if your job subjects you to loud noises. If your manager doesn’t provide hearing protection, get your own. Here are some products that can protect your ears:
Your employer will probably be willing to listen if you bring up your worries.
Give up Smoking
Hearing impairment is yet another good reason to quit smoking. Studies show that cigarette smokers are much more likely to experience age-related hearing loss. This is true if you are exposed to second-hand smoke, as well.
Check And Double Check Your Medications
Certain medications are ototoxic, meaning they damage your hearing. A few typical culprits include:
- Narcotic analgesics
- Certain antibiotics
- Cardiac medication
- Antidepressants and mood stabilizers
There are many other examples that go on this list, among them some over the counter and some prescription medications. If you use pain relievers, do so only when necessary and check the labels. If you are uncertain about a drug, consult your doctor before taking it.
Treat Your Body Well
Regular exercise and a good diet are things you should do for your general health but they are also important to your hearing health as well. Do what is necessary to deal with your high blood pressure like taking your medication and lowering salt consumption. 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.
Finally, have your hearing examined if you believe you might have hearing loss or if you hear ringing in your ears. The sooner you acknowledge there is a problem, the sooner you can do something about it, like getting hearing aids. Schedule an appointment with a hearing expert to keep any issues from getting even worse. It’s never too late.