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

It’s typical 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 years and years of listening to sound. Just like most things in life, though, prevention is the key to regulating the extent of that loss and how quickly it advances. Later on in your life, the extent of your hearing loss will depend on the choices you make now. You should think about it sooner than later because you can still lessen further loss of hearing. What can be done to keep your hearing loss from becoming worse?

Understanding Hearing Loss

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

Sound waves get to the inner ear only after having been amplified several times by the ear canal. Chemicals are released after being bumped into by little hairs, which are in turn shaken by inbound sound waves. These chemicals are translated by the brain into electrical signals, which are then “heard” by the brain as sound.

All of this rumbling eventually causes the hairs to start to break down and misfunction. Once these hair cells are gone they won’t come back. The sound is not translated into a language that the brain can understand without those little vibrating hairs.

What’s the story behind this hair cell destruction? There are numerous contributing variables including normal aging. Sound waves come in numerous strengths, however; that is what you know as volume. More damage is done to the hair cells if they receive stronger sound waves, and that means a higher volume of sound.

Exposure to loud noise isn’t the only factor. Chronic diseases like high blood pressure and diabetes have an affect, as well.

How to Protect Your Hearing

Protecting your ears over time is dependent on good hearing hygiene. The volume of sound is the biggest problem. When sound is at a higher volume or decibel level, it is exponentially more detrimental to the ears. Damage happens 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, let alone continuous exposure, will be enough to have an adverse effect later on. On the plus side, it’s fairly easy to take precautions to protect your ears when you expect to be around loud sound. Use hearing protection when you:

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

Avoid using devices made to amplify and isolate sound, too, including headphones and earbuds. The old-fashioned way is a much safer way to listen to music and that means at a lower volume.

Control The Noise Around You

Over time, even everyday sounds can become a hearing hazard. The noise rating should be checked before you buy a new appliance. Try to use appliances that have a lower noise rating.

When you are out at a restaurant or party, don’t be afraid to speak up if the noise gets too loud. A restaurant manager may be willing to turn down the background music for you or perhaps even move you to a different table away from loud speakers or clanging dishes.

Be Aware of Noise Levels at Work

At work, protect your ears if your work-place is loud. If your company doesn’t provide hearing protection, buy your own. Here are a few products that will protect your hearing:

  • Earplugs
  • Headphones
  • Earmuffs

If you bring up the worries, it’s likely that your manager will be willing to listen.

Give up Smoking

Put hearing health on the long list of reasons to quit smoking. Studies reveal that smokers are much more likely to get age-related hearing loss. Second-hand smoke can also speed up hearing loss.

All The Medications That You Take Should be Closely Evaluated

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

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

This list is a mix of over-the-counter products and prescription medications and it doesn’t cover all of them. Only take pain relievers if you really need them and be sure to check all of the labels. If you are unsure about a drug, ask your doctor before taking it.

Treat Your Body Well

Exercising and eating right are things you should do anyway but they are also essential to your hearing health as well. Do what is needed to deal with your high blood pressure like taking your medication and reducing sodium intake. You have a lower risk of chronic illness, such as diabetes, if you take good care of your body and this leads to lower chances of hearing problems.

If you believe that you hear ringing in your ears or if you have some hearing loss, get your hearing checked. Pay close attention to your hearing because you may not even realize that you may need hearing aids. If you notice any changes in your hearing, schedule an appointment with a hearing specialist. It’s never too late to take care of your hearing.