It’s typical to have hearing loss as you grow older but is it necessary? As they age, most adults will start to notice a change in their hearing. Even small changes in your hearing ability will be able to be noticed after years of hearing sound. Just like most things in life, though, prevention is the key to regulating the degree of that loss and how quickly it advances. Your hearing can be impacted later in your life by the things you decide to do now. It’s never too early to start or too late to care when it comes to ear health. What can be done to keep your hearing loss from getting worse?
Learn About Your Hearing Loss
It begins with understanding how hearing works and what causes most loss of hearing. Age-associated hearing loss, medically known as presbycusis, is affecting one in every three people in this country from 64 to 74. It is an accumulation of damage to the ears over the years. Presbycusis is slight at first and then gets progressively worse.
Sound goes into the ear in pressure waves that are amplified several times before they finally get to the inner ear. Chemicals are secreted after being bumped into by little hairs, which are in turn shaken by inbound waves of sound. These chemicals are interpreted by the brain as electrical signals, which are then “heard” by the brain as sound.
The drawback to all this shaking and oscillation is the hair cells ultimately break down and stop working. These hair cells won’t heal themselves, either, so once they’re gone, they don’t come back. The sound is not converted into a signal that the brain can comprehend without those little vibrating hairs.
How exactly do these hair cells get damaged? There are numerous contributing variables such as ordinary aging. Sound waves come in countless strengths, though; that is what you know as volume. More damage is done to the hair cells if they receive stronger sound waves, and that means a higher volume of sound.
There are some other factors aside from exposure to loud sound. Additionally, diabetes, high blood pressure, and other chronic diseases will have a strong effect.
Protecting Your Hearing
You need to rely on strong hearing hygiene to take care of your ears over time. The volume of sound is the biggest problem. Sound is a lot more dangerous when it’s at a higher volume or decibel level. It doesn’t have to be as loud as you may think to cause damage. A noise is too loud if you have to raise your voice to talk over it.
Everyone deals with the occasional loud noise but continued exposure or even just a couple of loud minutes at a time is enough to impact your hearing later in life. On the plus side, it’s pretty easy to take safety measures to protect your hearing when you know you’re going to be around loud sound. Use hearing protection when you:
- Ride a motorcycle
- Participate in loud activities.
- Run power equipment
- Go to a performance
Headphones, earbuds, and other devices made to isolate and amplify sound should be avoided. A lower volume should be chosen and use regular speakers.
Control The Noise Around You
Even the things in your house can generate enough noise to be an issue over time. The noise rating should be checked before you get 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 afraid to let someone know. The host of the party, or possibly even the restaurant manager may be willing to help accommodate for your issue.
Pay Attention to Noise Levels at Work
If your job subjects you to loud noises like equipment, you should do something about it. If your employer doesn’t provide hearing protection, get your own. Here are a few products that can protect your hearing:
Your employer will most likely 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 list. Studies show that smokers are much more likely to get age-related hearing loss. Second-hand smoke can also speed up hearing loss.
Check And Double Check Your Medications
Certain medications are ototoxic, meaning they can cause damage to your ears. Some typical offenders include:
- Antidepressants and mood stabilizers
- Certain antibiotics
- Narcotic analgesics
- Cardiac medication
This list is a mix of over-the-counter products and prescription medications and it doesn’t cover all of them. If you use pain relievers, do so only when necessary and check the labels. If you are uncertain about a drug, ask your doctor before taking it.
Be Good to Your Body
To slow down hearing loss it’s especially important, as you get older, to do the normal things that keep you healthy, like eating well and exercising. Do what is needed to deal with your high blood pressure like taking your medication and decreasing sodium 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.
If you think you have hearing loss or if you hear ringing in your ears, get your hearing tested. Pay close attention to your hearing because you might not even recognize that you may need hearing aids. It’s never too late to take care of your hearing, so if you notice any change, even a small one, schedule an appointment with a hearing care professional to find out what you can do to keep it from getting more serious.