Enhanced Hearing Center - Springfield, MO

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

Hearing loss is common for the majority of people, but does it have to be that way? The truth is, the majority of people will start to notice a change in their hearing as they get older. After listening to sound for many years, you will begin to recognize even slight changes in your hearing ability. Prevention is the best means of managing the extent of the loss and how rapidly it advances, which is true of most things in life. Later on in life, the extent of your hearing loss will depend on the decisions you make now. It’s never too early to begin or too late to care when it comes to ear health. What can be done to prevent your hearing loss from getting worse?

Learn About Your Hearing Loss

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

Sound goes into the ear as pressure waves that are amplified several times before they finally reach the inner ear. Chemicals are secreted after being bumped by little hairs, which are in turn shaken by incoming waves of sound. These chemicals are interpreted by the brain as electrical signals, which are then “heard” by the brain as sound.

Malfunctioning over time, due to the constant vibration, the tiny hairs finally quit. Once these hair cells are gone they won’t grow back. If there are no little hairs, there are no chemicals released to generate the electrical signal which the brain translates as sound.

So, what leads to this damage to the hair cells? It can be considerably magnified by several factors but it can be expected, to some degree, as a part of aging. Sound waves come in countless strengths, though; that is what’s known as volume. More damage is done to the hair cells if they receive stronger sound waves, and that means a higher volume of sound.

Loud noise is surely a factor but there are others too. Chronic diseases such as high blood pressure and diabetes take a toll, as well.

How to Take Care Of Your Hearing

Consistent hearing hygiene is an important part of taking care of your ears over time. Volume is at the root of the problem. 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 may think. A noise is too loud if you have to raise your voice to talk over it.

Your hearing will be impacted later on by even a couple of loud minutes and even more so by continued exposure. Luckily, it’s quite easy to take safety measures to protect your hearing when you expect to be around loud sound. Use hearing protection when you:

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

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

Every-Day Noises That Can be an Issue

Enough noise can be produced, even by common household sounds, to become a hearing threat over time. Presently, appliances and other home devices come with noise ratings. It’s far better to use devices with lower noise ratings.

If you are out at a restaurant or party, don’t be scared to tell someone if the noise gets too loud. A restaurant manager might be willing to turn the background music down for you or even move you to another table away from loud speakers or clanging dishes.

Pay Attention to Noise Levels at Work

When you’re working, protect your ears if your job is loud. Get your own ear protection if it’s not provided by your manager. There are numerous products out there that are made to protect you such as:

  • Headphones
  • Earplugs
  • Earmuffs

The chances are good that if you mention your concern, your boss will listen.

Quit Smoking

Add hearing to the list of reasons to quit smoking. Studies reveal that cigarette smokers are much more likely to get age-related hearing loss. This is true if you are subjected to second-hand smoke, too.

Make Certain to Look Closely at Medications That You Take

Ototoxic medications are known to cause damage to your ears. Some common offenders include:

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

There are many other examples that go on this list, including some over the counter and some prescription medications. If you take pain relievers, do so only when necessary and read the labels. If you are not sure about a drug, consult your doctor before taking it.

Take Good Care of Your Body

The common things you should do anyway like eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly are an important part of preventing hearing loss from getting worse, particularly as you get older. Do what is required to manage your high blood pressure like taking your medication and reducing sodium consumption. 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.

If you suspect you hear ringing in your ears or if you have some hearing loss, have your hearing checked. You might 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 hearing, 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 keep it from getting worse.

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