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

It’s typical to have hearing loss as you grow older but does it need to happen? The fact is, the majority of people will start to perceive a change in their hearing as they get older. That change is just the effect of a lot of years of listening to sound. The degree of the loss and how quickly it advances is best managed with prevention, as is true with most things in life. There are things you can do now that will affect your hearing later on in life. You should carefully consider it now because you can still prevent further loss of hearing. What can you do to prevent your hearing loss from becoming worse?

Learn About Your Hearing Loss

Understanding how the ears work is step one to knowing what causes most hearing loss. Age-associated hearing loss, known medically as presbycusis, affects one in every 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 having been amplified several times by the ear canal. Sound waves oscillate little hairs that bump into chemical releasing structures. These chemicals are transformed into electrical signals which the brain interprets as sound.

The negative aspect to all this movement and bumping is the hair cells ultimately break down and stop working. When these hair cells are destroyed, they are gone forever. The sound is not converted into a signal that the brain can comprehend without those little vibrating hairs.

What’s behind this hair cell destruction? There are lots of contributing variables such as ordinary aging. How powerful a sound wave is, is generally known as “volume”. More damage is done to the hair cells if they receive more powerful sound waves, and that means a higher volume of sound.

There are some other factors aside from exposure to loud sound. Chronic sicknesses like high blood pressure and diabetes take a toll, as well.

How to Take Care Of Your Hearing

Safeguarding your hearing over time depends on consistent hearing hygiene. Sound volume presents the biggest problem. Sound is far more unsafe when it’s at a higher volume or decibel level. You may think that it takes a very loud decibel level to cause injury, but it doesn’t. A noise is too loud if you have to raise your voice to talk over it.

Even a few loud minutes, let alone constant exposure, will be enough to cause an adverse effect later on. Fortunately protecting your ears from expected loud noises is pretty easy. Wear hearing protection when you:

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

Headphones, earbuds, and other accessories made to isolate and amplify sound should be avoided. The old-fashioned way is a safer way to partake of music and that means at a reduced volume.

Control The Noise Around You

Even the things around your house can generate enough noise to be an issue over time. The noise rating should be checked before you invest in a new appliance. The lower the noise rating the better.

If the noise gets too loud while you are out at a party or restaurant, don’t be afraid to speak up. The party’s host, 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 exposes you to loud sounds like equipment, then do something about it. If your employer doesn’t provide hearing protection, get your own. Here are several products that can protect your ears:

  • Headphones
  • Earmuffs
  • Earplugs

Your employer will probably be willing to listen if you bring up your worries.

Stop Smoking

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 experience age-related hearing loss. Second-hand smoke can also speed up hearing loss.

All The Medications That You Take Should be Closely Examined

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

  • Certain antibiotics
  • Mood stabilizers and antidepressants
  • Narcotic analgesics
  • Aspirin
  • Cardiac medication
  • Diuretics

There are many other examples that go on this list, among them some over the counter and some prescription medications. Read the label of any pain relievers you purchase and take them only when you really need them. Consult your doctor first if you are not certain.

Take Good Care of Your Health

The little things you should do anyway like eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly are an important part of preventing hearing loss from getting worse, especially as you start to get older. If you have high blood pressure, do what you must to manage it like lowering your salt intake and taking the medication prescribed to you. The better you take care of your health, the lower your chances of chronic illnesses that could cost you your hearing over time, like diabetes.

Lastly, get your hearing tested if you suspect you 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, such as getting hearing aids. If you observe any changes in your hearing, schedule an appointment with a hearing specialist. It’s not too late to take care of your hearing.

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