Couple enjoying their motorcycle while protecting their ears from further hearing loss.

It’s typical to have hearing loss as you grow older but is it necessary? The fact is, the majority of adults will begin to become aware of a change in their hearing as they age. Even slight changes in your hearing ability will be able to be noticed after years of hearing sound. The degree of the loss and how quickly it progresses is best controlled with prevention, which is true with most things in life. There are things you can do now that will affect your hearing later on in your life. In terms of the health of your ears, it’s never too late to care or too soon to begin. What can you do to prevent your hearing loss from getting worse?

Learn About Your Hearing Loss

Recognizing what causes the majority of hearing loss begins with finding out how the ears actually work. Age-related hearing loss, medically known as presbycusis, affects one in every three people in America from 64 to 74. It is a cumulation of damage to the ears over the years. Presbycusis is slight at first and then gets progressively worse.

The ear canal amplifies waves of sound several times before they get to the inner ear. Sound waves oscillate little hairs that bump against chemical releasing structures. These chemicals are transformed into electrical signals that the brain interprets as sound.

All of this rumbling eventually causes the hairs to begin to break down and misfunction. Once these hair cells are lost they won’t grow back. The sound is not translated into a signal that the brain can comprehend without those little vibrating hairs.

What’s behind this hair cell damage? It will happen, to some degree, with normal aging but there are other things which will also contribute. The word “volume” makes reference to the strength of sound waves. More damage is done to the hair cells if they receive more powerful sound waves, and that means a higher volume of sound.

Loud noise is certainly a consideration but there are others too. Chronic illnesses such as high blood pressure and diabetes have an affect, as well.

How to Take Care Of Your Hearing

You should rely on consistent hearing hygiene to take care of your ears over time. At the root of the issue is volume. When sound is at a higher volume or decibel level, it is significantly more detrimental to the ears. Damage happens at a far lower decibel level then you would realize. If you notice that you have to raise your voice to talk over a noise, it’s too loud.

Even a few loud minutes, not to mention frequent exposure, will be enough to cause an adverse effect later on. The good news is protecting your hearing from expected loud noises is really easy. Use hearing protection when you:

  • Do something where the noise is loud.
  • Run power equipment
  • Go to a concert
  • Ride a motorcycle

Avoid using devices made to amplify and isolate sound, also, like headphones and earbuds. Partake of music the old-fashioned way and at a lower volume.

Every-Day Noises That Can Become an Issue

Even the things in your home can generate enough noise to be an issue over time. The noise rating should be checked before you buy a new appliance. It’s far better to use equipment with lower noise ratings.

If the noise is too loud when you are out at a party or restaurant, don’t be afraid to speak up. The host of the party, or perhaps even the restaurant manager may be willing to help accommodate for your issue.

Be Aware of Noise Levels at Work

If your job subjects you to loud sounds like equipment, you need to do something about it. If your manager doesn’t provide hearing protection, get your own. Here are several products that can protect your ears:

  • Earmuffs
  • Earplugs
  • Headphones

If you mention your worries, chances are your manager will listen.

Stop Smoking

Hearing impairment is yet another good reason to give up smoking. Studies demonstrate that smokers are much more likely to get age-related hearing loss. If you are exposed to second-hand smoke this is also true.

Check And Double Check Your Medications

Ototoxic medications are known to cause damage to your ears. Several typical offenders include:

  • Certain antibiotics
  • Narcotic analgesics
  • Aspirin
  • NSAIDS
  • Cardiac medication
  • Diuretics
  • Antidepressants and mood stabilizers

There are many other items 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 read the labels. Ask your doctor first if you are not sure.

Take Good Care of Your Body

Regular exercise and a good diet are things you should do anyway but they are also important to your hearing health as well. Do what is required to manage your high blood pressure like taking your medication and decreasing sodium intake. The better you care for your health, the lower your risk of chronic health problems that could cost you your hearing over time, like diabetes.

Finally, get your hearing tested if you think you have hearing loss or if you hear ringing in your ears. Pay close attention to your hearing because you may not even know that you need hearing aids. It’s never too late to start taking care of your hearing, so if you notice a change, even a small one, schedule an appointment with a hearing care professional to find out what you can do to stop it from getting worse.

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