How to Prevent Hearing Loss & Reduce Its Impact

Perhaps you have been noticing that you have to ask people to repeat themselves more than normal. There are a lot of factors that can contribute to this, but if you are dealing with hearing loss, you are not alone. 

Hearing loss affects approximately 48 million people in the United States alone. There are many causes of hearing loss and some of those affect people of all ages. However, the largest cause of hearing loss is presbycusis, commonly known as age related hearing loss. This is due to the natural breakdown of the parts of the inner ear over time.  Even so, there are many ways to protect your hearing to make sure your hearing can stay it’s healthiest for as long as possible. We will explore a few things you can do to protect your hearing over a lifetime. 

Avoid excessive noise

Noise induced hearing loss is the second most prevalent cause of hearing loss. A 2017 survey found that nearly one in four (24 percent) of U.S. adults aged 20 to 69 years dealt with noise induced hearing loss. This happens when someone is exposed to a level of 85 decibels of sound or higher for an extended amount of time or suddenly as decibels levels continue to rise. Many people work in environments that have sound levels over the safe limits day in day out. Noise induced hearing loss can also be furthered by neighborhood noise if you live in a congested area or from recreation like water sports and power tools. When ever engaging in activities that may be an unsafe level make sure you wear hearing protection whether it be ear plugs or ear muffs to keep your ears hearing healthy.

Keep the noise levels low

Even in your home, the hum of noisy air conditioners, dishwashers and home audio systems can deteriorate your hearing over time. Invest in quieter appliances to save the wear and tear on your ears. When you listen to music or watch TV make sure to keep the level at a maximum of 60 percent of its potential volume and make sure to give your ears a break every hour or so as noise induced hearing loss is not only exasperated by the level of noise but the longevity of it.

Wear hearing protection properly

Even if you wear hearing protection, it only works if you wear the correct hearing protection for the proper level of noise. Earplugs are most often made from foam or rubber and are placed just inside the ear canal and reduce sound levels by 15 – 30 decibels.  Meanwhile, earmuffs fit completely over your ears and reduce sounds the same amount. When sound levels are going to be excessive it is recommended to wear earplugs and earmuffs together, for superior protection.

Use cotton swabs with caution

When wax builds up in your ear canals it can be unsightly, and in extreme cases clog up your ear canal. It is never recommended to stick anything in your ear canal as you could damage the fragile parts that make it possible for you to hear. It is best to keep your cleaning to the outer ear and if there is a build up of wax contact a hearing specialist to clean your ears safely. 

Avoid Smoking

Studies have found that tobacco can put your hearing at risk. If you were looking for a good excuse to quit, this may be it!

Check Medications for Hearing Risks

Certain medications are known as ototoxic, meaning that they can damage your hearing. There are a wide umbrella of medications that are dangerous in this category, including some cancer drugs, some antibiotics and even aspirin. If you do need to take a drug that puts your hearing at risk, make sure you talk to your doctor about the risks.

Test your hearing 

Hearing loss can affect you no matter what your age and it is best to catch it early. When hearing loss goes untreated it can strain daily communication at work and at home.  It also compromises your level alertness making you more susceptible to falls and accidents. Ideally you should have your hearing tested annually to make sure you are hearing you’re healthiest.