Hearing loss affects 20% of Americans. That’s a big number guys! It usually occurs later on in life and can be a natural symptom of aging, however certain lifestyle choices and behaviors can increase the risk. As youngsters we don’t pay much attention to these concerns, but we should. Parents should also be aware. Here are just a few ways in which you may be able to preserve your sense of hearing.
Turn down the music
This hurts me to say because music is life but many of us, me included, love to blare out our favorite music loudly, but doing so could be damaging our hearing. Evidently, it’s not all about that bass…Damage to the ears can occur when the ears are exposed to anything over 85 decibels (particularly for prolonged periods). Many lawnmowers average this volume whist some noisy restaurants can even reach this volume (this may give you an idea of how loud 85 decibels is).
There are decibel reader apps that you can use to measure the volume such as Decibel X. Some modern smartphones may even have in-built features that can tell you when you’re listening to music too loudly on headphones – it’s worth paying attention to these warnings.
That said, it’s usually easy to tell if you’re causing your ears damage. If you’re listening to music on headphones and you can still hear your music clearly with the headphones off, it’s probably too loud. Similarly, if you’re driving down a highway and can’t hear the car at all (electric vehicles aside), you’re also probably listening to music too loudly. Ringing of the ears after listening to music can be a particular danger sign and usually means that damage has already occurred.
Wear earplugs in noisy environments
Certain environments can be very loud and put you at serious risk of hearing damage. Nightclubs and construction sites can often reach 100 decibels. Concerts can reach as high as 120 decibels. Meanwhile, airport runways and aircraft carriers regularly reach decibel levels of 140 decibels.
Wearing ear protection is advised in these environments. If it’s your workplace, your employer may be legally required to supply ear protection. You should wear this ear protection at all times as it could help to keep the noise to a healthier volume.
When it comes to going to concerts, nightclubs or motor racing events as a leisure activity, it is your responsibility to provide ear protection. This is probably where I’m the most guilty of not taking proper precautions. Unfortunately, wearing earplugs is not the ‘cool’ thing to do – although this attitude is changing. Wearing earplugs is particularly recommended for those that regularly attend such events.
Stop using cotton swabs
Cotton swabs may seem like an innocent enough method of cleaning the ears, but they can in fact cause harm to the ear canal and ear drum. Whilst they can help to remove some earwax, they can also push some earwax further into the ear where it becomes harder to reach.
Be careful. When it comes to cleaning your ears, you’re much better off using other methods. Ear drops are useful for loosening up serious build-ups of earwax. You can also get your ears irrigated by a professional – this may involve squirting water into the ears with a syringe.
Alternatively, you can simply let earwax naturally work its way out (the ears are designed to do this). Unless you’ve got a noticeable amount of excess earwax, there’s no need to clean your ears and the amount of earwax is likely to be healthy, helping to stop dust and dirt getting into your ears.
Don’t ignore earache
Any pain in the ear is not a good sign and is something you should get checked with a doctor as soon as possible. Ignoring the pain could cause the problem to get worse and could lead to permanent hearing loss.
Ruptured eardrums can cause some of the most serious pain. Changes in pressure can cause this – the most common activity is scuba diving. Eardrums can slowly heal over time, but you may want to see a doctor first to check that there is no infection which could prevent this.
Sinus infections can sometimes spread to the ears and cause hearing loss if not treated. These may be able to cleared up with antibiotics, but you’ll need to see a doctor first.
Know when to get a hearing test
If you notice yourself straining to hear people in conversations or you keep turning the volume up on the TV, it could be a sign that hearing loss has already started to occur. In this situation, it’s best to get a hearing test done as soon as possible – this will allow you to then buy the right prescription of hearing aid so that you can hear properly again.
Hearing aids won’t just help you to hear properly again, but they’ll prevent you straining and could prevent further hearing loss as a result. If you’d tried hearing aids before but didn’t get on with them, it could be worth giving them another chance and exploring different kinds of hearing aids. You may be able to concentrate better with Miracle-Ear hearing aids, which can reduce background noise whilst amplifying the most important sounds. There are also hearing aids that can help get rid of conditions such as tinnitus.
Stress and hearing loss are strongly linked. This is because it restricts blood circulation, which is important for the sensory hairs in the inner ears. Chronic stress can have a particular impact on one’s hearing, by causing these nerves to eventually wear out and die. By taking time to de-stress at the end of the day you could help to avoid hearing loss.
Other factors can restrict blood circulation and similarly lead to hearing loss. These include smoking and a poor diet. It’s also not just your ears that poor circulation can affect – poor blood circulation could also affect nerve signals in other parts of the body as well as increasing the risk of varicose veins, muscle cramp and digestive problems.