Hearing Loss and How to Prevent It

The most prevalent forms of hearing loss in adults are:

  • Age-related hearing loss, or presbycusis. This is caused by a slow breakdown of tiny hair cells in the ears that takes place as you get older.
  • Noise-induced hearing loss. This comes from exposure to loud noises over time that damage tiny hair cells in the ears. These cells pick up sound vibrations and send signals to the brain.

Fortunately, there are things you can do to prevent noise-induced hearing loss and avoid worsening age-related hearing loss. Here are 8 tips to help keep your ears as sharp as possible.

  1. Avoid Excessive Noise
  2. How loud is too loud? If you have to shout over surrounding noise, it's loud enough to damage your hearing. For example, the sounds from motorcycles, music players, and power tools like saws and drills are all loud enough to damage hearing over time.

  3. Be a Quiet Enforcer
  4. Turn down the ambient noise level in your life by buying appliances and devices that have low noise ratings. If ambient noise is too loud in a health club, movie theater, restaurant, or any other place you frequent, ask the manager to turn it down.

  5. Limit Exposure to Loud Sounds
  6. Sometimes you can't avoid loud sounds. At those times, it's best to limit the amount of time you're exposed to them. Noise-induced hearing loss is a result of the loudness of sounds in addition to the duration of exposure.

  7. Wear Hearing Protection
  8. Wear ear protection if you know you're going to be exposed to loud sounds for more than a few minutes. Choices for protection include:

    • Earplugs. Usually made of foam or rubber, earplugs are inserted into the ear canal and can reduce noise by 15 to 30 decibels. You can buy earplugs off-the-shelf or have them custom-made to fit you. Some ear plugs are designed to reduce noise levels evenly across all frequencies. These are useful for people who need to make sound quieter but undistorted, such as musicians.
    • Earmuffs. Designed to fit completely over your ears, earmuffs also reduce sounds by about 15 to 30 decibels. Remember that your earmuffs must fit tightly over both ears in order to block sound. Earplugs and earmuffs can also be used together for even greater protection from loud sounds.

  9. Don't Smoke
  10. Exposure to tobacco smoke has been linked to increased risk of hearing loss. Research has shown that smoking, age, and noise exposure can collectively increase a person's risk for hearing loss. If you smoke, preserving your hearing is one more good reason to quit. If you don't smoke, be sure to avoid breathing secondhand smoke.

  11. Remove Earwax Properly
  12. Wax buildup in your ears can muffle sound. But don't use a cotton swab to clean them out. Cotton swabs can push wax even deeper into your ear canal. Instead, use an at-home irrigation kit to soften wax and gently wash it out of your ear. If wax has become compacted in your ear, your doctor may need to remove it.

  13. Check Medications for Hearing Risks
  14. Some 200 medications are potentially ototoxic, or damaging to hearing. Ototoxic medications include some antibiotics and certain cancer-fighting drugs, among others. Even high doses of aspirin can harm your ears. If you take a prescription medication, check with your doctor to make sure it doesn't pose a threat to your hearing. If you must take a medication that may be ototoxic, make sure your doctor monitors your hearing and balance before and during your treatment.

  15. Have Your Hearing Tested
  16. Make an appointment to get your hearing tested if you:

    • Have close relatives with hearing loss
    • Have trouble hearing conversations
    • Are exposed to loud noises on a regular basis
    • Experience a frequent ringing sound in your ears

If you have some hearing loss, you can still prevent further damage by avoiding exposure to loud noises. If your hearing loss is severe enough, you may benefit from a hearing aid or other treatment. Be sure to see your doctor if you experience sudden unexplained change in your hearing. Sudden hearing loss can be a symptom of other serious medical problems.

Trust Albrecht Audiology for all your hearing needs.

As our patient you can expect a thorough assessment of your hearing, loudness perception characteristics, and listening needs, and advice as to how to best meet those needs. If amplification is recommended, you can expect a high degree of personal care in choosing appropriately from a rapidly increasing and changing range of technology, whether it be limited to help with the television, for example, or a more complete solution for all environments.

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