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

It’s normal to have hearing loss as you grow older but is it necessary? As they age, the majority of people will start to experience a change in their hearing. After listening to sound for many years, you will notice even slight changes in your ability to hear. As with most things in life, though, prevention is the answer to controlling the degree of that loss and how fast it advances. There are some things you can do now that will affect your hearing later on in your life. You should consider it now because you can still prevent further loss of hearing. What steps can you take now to safeguard your hearing?

Comprehending Hearing Loss

It begins with understanding how hearing works and what causes most loss of hearing. Age-related 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 starts slowly and then gets worse over time.

Sound waves get to the inner ear only after being amplified several times by the ear canal. Sound waves wiggle little hairs which bump into chemical releasing structures. These chemicals are transformed into electrical signals which the brain interprets as sound.

The drawback to all this shaking and vibrating is the hair cells ultimately break down and stop working. Once these hair cells are lost they won’t come back. The sound is not translated into a signal that the brain can understand without those little vibrating hairs.

So, what creates this destruction of the hair cells? It will happen, to some extent, with aging but there are other factors which will also contribute. How strong a sound wave is, is known as “volume”. If the sound is at a higher volume, then the force of the sound wave is greater, and the hair cells take more damage.

Direct exposure to loud sound isn’t the only factor to consider. Also, diabetes, high blood pressure, and other chronic illnesses will have a strong effect.

How to Take Care Of Your Hearing

You should rely on consistent hearing hygiene to safeguard your ears over time. The volume of sound is the biggest problem. Sound is measured using decibels and the higher the decibel the more damaging the noise. You might believe that it takes a very high volume to cause damage, but it doesn’t. You shouldn’t need to raise your voice to talk over another sound. If you do that sound is too loud.

Even a few loud minutes, never mind continued exposure, will be enough to have a detrimental effect later on. Taking precautions when you expect to be exposed to loud sound, luckily, is pretty simple. Use hearing protection when you:

  • Participate in loud activities.
  • Run power equipment
  • Go to a performance
  • Ride a motorcycle

Headphones, earbuds, and other devices designed to isolate and amplify sound should be avoided. A reduced volume should be chosen and use regular speakers.

Control The Noise Around You

Even the things in your home can make enough noise to become a threat over time. Presently, appliances and other home devices have noise ratings. The lower the rating the better.

Don’t be afraid to speak up if the noise gets too loud when you’re at a restaurant or party. A restaurant manager may be willing to turn the background music down for you or maybe 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, you need to do something about it. Buy your own ear protection if it’s not provided by your employer. Here are a few products that will protect your hearing:

  • Earmuffs
  • Earplugs
  • Headphones

If you mention your concern, it’s likely that your boss will listen.

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 subjected to second-hand smoke, also.

All The Medications That You Take Should be Closely Examined

Certain medications are ototoxic, meaning they can cause damage to your ears. Several typical culprits include:

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

The complete list is quite a bit longer than this one and contains prescription medication and over the counter products. Only use pain relievers when you really need them and be sure to check all of the labels. If you are uncertain about a drug, consult your doctor before taking it.

Treat Your Body Well

The little things you should do anyway like eating right and exercising regularly are an important part of preventing hearing loss from getting worse, particularly as you get older. Reduce the amount of sodium you eat and take your medications to deal with your high blood pressure. The better you take care of your body, the lower your risk of chronic sicknesses that might cost you your hearing over time, like diabetes.

If you think you have hearing loss or if you have ringing in your ears, get a hearing exam. Pay close attention to your hearing because you may not even know that you may need hearing aids. If you observe any changes in your hearing, schedule an appointment with a hearing specialist. It’s never too late to take care of your hearing.

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