Hearing loss, also known as auditory dysfunction, is a condition that affects your ability to perceive sounds. It can be caused by many factors, including age-related hearing loss or exposure to loud noises without proper protection. However, there are many things you can do for yourself to reduce your risk of developing hearing loss over time. In this guide we will discuss some steps you can take to keep your ears healthy and prevent or solve your hearing issues.
The Importance of Healthy Hearing
As we age, our brains begin to lose some of their ability to process sound waves into meaningful information. In addition, hearing impairment can make it difficult for older adults to understand spoken language or engage in conversations over the phone. This can have a significant impact on quality of life as well as social interactions with friends and family members.
People with hearing loss tend to withdraw from social interaction due to embarrassment or frustration over not being able to understand what people are saying during conversations. If left untreated, this can lead to feelings of isolation or depression, which may contribute further to hearing loss if the person stops using their remaining hearing capacity because they don’t want to.
Get Your Hearing Tested
If you haven’t had a hearing test in the last few years, it’s time to get one in a reliable hearing aid clinic. A simple hearing test can tell you if there is any damage to your ears. It also helps identify if you have any hearing loss and how severe it is.
Avoid Loud Noise
Keep your ears safe by avoiding loud noise.
- Avoid noises that are too loud for you. This means keeping your exposure to sounds below 85 decibels (dB) for the duration that you are exposed to them. You can use earplugs or other protective devices designed to reduce the amount of sound entering your ears when you know you will be exposed to loud sounds, like going to a concert or sitting near an airplane engine during takeoff.
A good rule of thumb is: if it sounds as though someone is standing next to you with their mouth right next to your ear, then it might be too loud!
If you smoke, quitting is a good idea for your health in general. But it’s also very beneficial for your hearing: smoking can damage the blood vessels and reduce blood flow to the inner ear, which can lead to hearing loss. Smoking also increases your risk of middle ear infections by increasing inflammation in that area of the body. And if you already have middle ear problems like otitis media (or “swimmer’s ear”), smoking can cause fluid build-up in your ears due to reduced drainage from poor ventilation.
Clean Your Ears With Care
While it’s important to clean your ears, you should never use water or alcohol to do so. These substances can damage the skin and tissue of your external ear canal and may cause inflammation or infection.
Instead, use a cotton swab to gently remove dirt and wax buildup around the outer opening of the ear canal. If any debris remains after cleaning with a cotton swab, gently massage the area with a damp washcloth until all particles are removed.
Never put anything into your ear canal—including Q-tips or matchboxes—because doing so can damage sensitive structures within the ear that help you hear properly and protect you from bacteria and infections.
Keep the Volume Down on Your Earbuds
- Keep the volume low. Sound is measured in decibels, and each 10-decibel increase doubles the sound level. For example, a typical conversation is around 60 decibels, while a lawn mower at 100 feet away produces about 90 decibels of noise. At this level, you could damage your hearing after just 8 hours of exposure! Avoid loud noises and keep your music player volumes low to protect your hearing.
- Use noise-cancelling earbuds. Noise cancelling earbuds use microphones that detect ambient sound waves and then emit counter waves to cancel them out before they reach your eardrums.
- Use earbuds with a built-in microphone so you can take calls without taking off your headphones or putting them down somewhere unsafe during activities like running or biking when it’s not safe to pull out an iPhone from its case (or even if it is).
Consider Hearing Aids for Hearing Improvement
If you have mild to moderate hearing loss and don’t want to wear a hearing aid all the time, consider getting one that fits behind the ear or in the ear canal (called “in-the-ear” or “indwelling”). They are less visible than traditional over-the-ear hearing aids because they fit inside the ear canal instead of outside it.
Hearing aids are an option for those who have lost their ability to hear sounds clearly. Hearing aids help amplify sound, allowing you to better perceive sounds in your environment. They’re also useful for people with tinnitus, which is often described as a ringing or buzzing in the ears that only you can hear. You can choose between behind-the-ear models and ones that fit inside the ear canal, but both have become smaller and more comfortable over time.
Some people opt for a type of device called a cochlear implant instead of regular hearing aids. Cochlear implants aren’t designed to cure hearing loss; they simply replace damaged parts of the inner ear so that you can hear certain frequencies of sound again. The devices are surgically implanted under the skin behind your ear and use an external processor worn on your belt or behind one ear to transmit sound signals directly into your brainstem so that you can understand speech without wearing headphones or using other devices.
If you follow the tips in this article, you’ll be on your way towards improved ear health and possibly even a reduced risk of hearing loss over time.
Lisa Gagnon is an experienced marketing manager who has been working in the hearing health industry for a long time. She focuses on sharing useful knowledge and information related to the industry that helps people make the right decision.