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

It’s normal to have hearing loss as you get older but is it necessary? As they grow older, the vast majority of adults will begin to experience a change in their hearing. After listening to sound for years, you will notice even slight changes in your hearing ability. Prevention is the best means of controlling the extent of the loss and how rapidly it progresses, which is the case with most things in life. Your hearing will be affected later on in your life by the choices you make now. It’s never too early to begin or too late to care when it comes to ear health. You really want to keep your hearing from getting worse, but what can you do?

Comprehending Hearing Loss

Recognizing what causes the majority of hearing loss starts with learning how the ears work. Age-related hearing loss, medically known as presbycusis, affects one in every three people in this country from 64 to 74. It is an accumulation of damage to the ears over time. Presbycusis is slight at first and then gets worse over time.

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

The downside to all this movement and oscillation is the hair cells eventually break down and stop working. Once these hair cells are lost they won’t come back. If there are no tiny hairs, there are no chemicals released to create the electrical impulse which the brain interprets as sound.

So, what brings about this damage to the hair cells? It can be considerably magnified by several factors but it can be anticipated, to some degree, with aging. How powerful a sound wave is, is known as “volume”. The higher the volume, the more powerful the sound wave and the bigger the impact on the hair cells.

Exposure to loud sound isn’t the only consideration. Also, diabetes, high blood pressure, and other chronic ailments will take a toll.

Safeguarding Your Hearing

You should depend on consistent hearing hygiene to protect your ears over time. The volume of sound is the biggest problem. Sound is measured in decibels and the higher the decibel level the more damaging the noise. It doesn’t take as much as you may think to lead to damage. A noise is too loud if you have to raise your voice to talk over it.

Even just a few loud minutes, let alone frequent exposure, will be enough to cause an adverse effect later on. Taking precautions when you expect to be subjected to loud sound, luckily, is pretty easy. Wear hearing protection when you:

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

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.

Day-to-Day Noises That Can Become a Problem

Even the things in your home can generate enough noise to become a threat over time. Presently, appliances and other home devices have noise ratings. It’s much better to use appliances with lower noise ratings.

If the noise is too loud while 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 Conscious of Noise When You Are at Work

If your job exposes you to loud noises like equipment, you need to do something about it. Purchase your own ear protection if it’s not provided by your manager. Here are a few products that will protect your ears:

  • Earplugs
  • Earmuffs
  • Headphones

There’s a good chance that if you mention your concern, your boss will listen.

Stop Smoking

There are lots of good reasons to quit smoking and you can add hearing loss to the list. Studies reveal that cigarette smokers are much more likely to experience age-related hearing loss. Second-hand smoke can also speed up hearing loss.

Make Sure to Look Closely at Medications That You Take

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

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

There are many other items that go on this list, including some over the counter and some prescription medications. If you use pain relievers, do so only when necessary and read the labels. Consult your doctor first if you are not sure.

Be Good to Your Body

Exercising and eating right are things you should do anyway but they are also essential to your hearing health as well. Lessen the amount of sodium you eat and take your medications to manage your high blood pressure. You have a lower risk of chronic illness, such as diabetes, if you take good care of your body and this leads to lower chances of hearing loss.

Finally, get your hearing examined if you believe you could have hearing loss or if you hear ringing in your ears. You could need hearing aids and not even know it so pay attention to your hearing. It’s never too late to start taking care of your ears, so if you notice any change, even a small one, schedule an appointment with a hearing care professional to find out what to do to stop it from getting more serious.

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