Cedar Audiology Associates - Cleveland, OH

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

It’s normal to have hearing loss as you get older but does it need to happen? As they begin to grow older, most adults will notice a subtle change in their hearing. That change is just the effect of many years of listening to sound. Prevention is the best way of controlling the extent of the loss and how quickly it advances, which is the case with most things in life. Later in your life, the extent of your hearing loss will be determined by the decisions you make now. You should consider it sooner than later because you can still protect against further loss of hearing. What can be done to keep your hearing loss from becoming worse?

Understanding Hearing Loss

Learning how the ears actually work is the first step to knowing what causes most hearing loss. Age-associated hearing loss, medically known as presbycusis, is affecting one in every three people in this country from 64 to 74. It is a cumulation of damage to the ears over the years. Presbycusis is slight at first and then gets progressively worse.

Sound waves reach the inner ear only after having been amplified a few times by the ear canal. As it arrives, the sound shakes little hairs cells, causing them to bump structures which release chemicals to create an electrical message which the brain interprets as sound.

The drawback to all this movement and oscillation is the hair cells ultimately break down and stop working. These hair cells don’t restore themselves, either, so once gone, they’re gone. Without those cells to create the electrical impulses, the sound can’t be translated into a language the brain can understand.

What’s the story behind this hair cell destruction? There are several contributing variables such as ordinary aging. The word “volume” makes reference to the power of sound waves. More damage is done to the hair cells if they receive stronger sound waves, and that means a higher volume of sound.

There are some other considerations aside from exposure to loud noise. Additionally, diabetes, high blood pressure, and other chronic ailments will have a strong effect.

Protecting Your Hearing

You should rely on strong hearing hygiene to take 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 exponentially more damaging to the ears. It doesn’t have to be as loud as you might think to cause hearing damage. You shouldn’t need to raise your voice to talk over another sound. If you do that sound is too loud.

Your hearing can be affected later on by even a couple of loud minutes and even more so by frequent exposure. Fortunately protecting your ears from expected loud noises is fairly easy. Use hearing protection when you:

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

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

Every-Day Noises That Can be a Problem

Enough noise can be produced, even by every-day household sounds, to become a hearing hazard over time. When you buy an appliance for your home, consider the noise rating of the product. The lower the noise rating the better.

If the noise gets too loud when you are out at a party or restaurant, don’t be scared to let someone know. A restaurant manager may be willing to turn down the background music for you or possibly even move you to a different table away from loud speakers or clanging dishes.

Be Conscious of Noise While at Work

When you’re working, protect your ears if your work-place is loud. Buy your own ear protection if it is not provided by your employer. There are lots of products out there that will protect you such as:

  • Headphones
  • Earplugs
  • Earmuffs

If you bring up the worries, chances are your boss will listen.

Quit Smoking

Hearing impairment is yet another good reason to stop smoking. Studies reveal that cigarette smokers are much more likely to experience age-related hearing loss. If you are exposed to second-hand smoke this is also true.

Check And Double Check Your Medications

Ototoxic medications are known to cause damage to your ears. Several common culprits include:

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

This list is a mix of over-the-counter products and prescription medications and it’s not even all of them. If you use pain relievers, do so only when necessary and check the labels. Ask your doctor first if you are uncertain.

Take Good Care of Your Body

The little things you should do anyway like eating right and exercising regularly are an essential part of preventing hearing loss from getting worse, particularly as you start to get older. Lower the amount of sodium you eat and take your medications to deal with your high blood pressure. The better you care for your health, the lower your chances of chronic sicknesses that could cost you your hearing over time, like diabetes.

If you believe that 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 close attention to your hearing. It’s never too late to take 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 stop it from getting even worse.

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