Audio Life Hearing Center- Knoxville, TN

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

Hearing loss is not always unavoidable, although it is quite common. As they grow older, the vast majority of adults will begin to recognize a change in their ability to hear. After listening to sound for years, you will begin to recognize even slight changes in your ability to hear. The degree of the loss and how rapidly it advances is best managed with prevention, which is true with most things in life. There are things you can do now that will affect your hearing later on in your life. You should carefully consider it now because you can still prevent further hearing loss. You really want to keep your hearing from becoming worse, but what can be done?

Learn About Your Hearing Loss

Understanding what causes most hearing loss starts with finding out how the ears work. Age-related hearing loss, medically known as presbycusis, impacts one in every three people in America from 64 to 74. It is a cumulation of damage to the ears over the years. Presbycusis starts slowly and then gets progressively worse.

Sound enters the ear as pressure waves that are amplified a number of times before they get to the inner ear. Sound waves jiggle tiny hairs that bump against chemical releasing structures. These chemicals are transformed into electrical signals which the brain interprets as sound.

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

What’s the story behind this hair cell damage? It can be greatly increased by several factors but it can be expected, to varying degrees, with aging. How powerful a sound wave is, is 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 considerations aside from exposure to loud noise. Chronic sicknesses such as high blood pressure and diabetes take a toll, as well.

How to Protect Your Hearing

Good hearing hygiene is an important part of taking care of your ears over time. The volume of sound is the biggest problem. When sound is at a higher volume or decibel level, it is exponentially more harmful to the ears. Damage is caused at a substantially lower decibel level then you may think. A noise is too loud if you have to raise your voice to talk over it.

Even a few loud minutes, never mind continued exposure, will be enough to have an adverse effect later on. Taking precautions when you expect to be subjected to loud sound, fortunately, is pretty easy. Wear hearing protection when you:

  • Run power tools
  • Do something where the noise is loud.
  • Go to a performance
  • Ride a motorcycle

Headphones, earbuds, and other accessories made to isolate and amplify sound should be avoided. Partake of music the old-fashioned way and at a lesser volume.

Day-to-Day Noises That Can be a Problem

Over time, even household sounds will become a hearing threat. Nowadays, appliances and other home devices have noise ratings. It’s much better to use devices with lower noise ratings.

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

Pay Attention to Noise Levels While at Work

If your job exposes you to loud sounds like equipment, then do something about it. If your manager doesn’t provide hearing protection, get your own. Here are several products that will protect your ears:

  • Headphones
  • Earmuffs
  • Earplugs

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

Quit Smoking

Put hearing health on the long list of reasons 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, too.

All The Medications That You Take Should be Closely Examined

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

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

This list is a mix of over-the-counter products and prescription medications and it’s not even all of them. Only take pain relievers if you really need them and be sure to read all of the labels. Consult your doctor first if you are not certain.

Treat Your Body Well

To slow down hearing loss it’s especially important, as you get older, to do the normal things that keep you healthy, like eating right and exercising. Do what is necessary to manage your high blood pressure like taking your medication and reducing sodium consumption. The better you take care of your health, the lower your chances of chronic sicknesses that might cost you your hearing over time, like diabetes.

If you think you hear ringing in your ears or if you have some hearing loss, have your hearing tested. The sooner you recognize you have a problem, the sooner you can do something about it, such as getting hearing aids. Schedule an appointment with a hearing expert to keep any problems from getting even worse. It’s never too late.

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