The ability to hear and communicate is a valuable commodity, so preserving and protecting that ability is an important endeavor. Everyone is at risk for hearing loss at some point in life, and learning how to prevent hearing loss before it happens is key, because hearing damage cannot be reversed once it has already happened.
Below are listed a few sure-fire techniques to safeguard your hearing.
- Protect Your Ears
We are often exposed to noisy environments: concerts, loud restaurants, clubs, lawnmowers, power tools, and factory settings. Environmental noise in work or leisure environments has been found to contribute to hearing loss for at least 15% of Americans.
To combat environmental noise pollution, earplugs or mufflers can be found cheaply almost anywhere. If you need protection for your work environment, such as in a factory or as a musician, custom earplugs can be designed to limit exposure to loud noise while still allowing conversation and music enjoyment. Your audiologist can help you order a custom set of earplugs that will fit you uniquely.
- Mind the Volume
It seems hearing loss is no longer only a problem for the elderly. The World Health Organization has found that 1.1 billion teens and young adults worldwide are at risk for noise-induced hearing loss due to the ubiquitous use of audio devices. We are able to take our entertainment wherever we go: from music to movies, and constantly listening at a loud volume can compromise our hearing.
They recommend using over-the-ear headphones in place of ear buds, and following the 60/60 rule: listen no more than 60 minutes per day at 60% volume or less.
- Recover and Rest
When you are inevitably exposed to a loud environment, give your ears a break by stepping away from the noise for 5 minutes at a time to allow for better recovery.
And if you’ve had a noisy evening out, your ears need at least 16 hours of quiet to recover from the stresses.
- Exercise Your Ears
We all know that cardiovascular exercise is good for our waistlines and our hearts, but did you know it’s good for your hearing as well? Blood circulation is improved when we get moving—even for just a walk around the block or a leisurely bike ride. The inner organs of our ears rely on this blood circulation to stay functioning at peak levels as we age. So do your ears a favor and hit the gym!
- Maintain Low Stress
Ringing in the ears, known as Tinnitus, has been linked to anxiety and stress, which limit blood flow, achieving the opposite of good circulation. When we are stressed, our bodies tense and there is pressure on our nerves. So take a load off and relax each day to preserve your health and your hearing!
- Dry and Clean
Infections such as Swimmer’s Ear can be caused by trapped moisture in the inner ear canal after bathing or swimming. Infection can damage the ear’s inner organs and affect hearing ability. Any time your ears get wet, dry your ears gently with a towel or cloth. If you can feel water in your ears, tilt your head or lay down until the water drains out.
- Say No to Drugs
Most people assume over-the-counter pharmaceuticals are harmless because they don’t need a prescription. This is not true, however: NSAIDS such as aspirin, naproxen and ibuprofen have been found to directly cause hearing loss, so avoid taking them unless necessary.
- Avoid Cotton Swabs
Do you use cotton swabs to clean wax from your ears? Many people do, but audiologists do not recommend it. Ear wax is a natural defense system to block out harmful dust and other particles that could damage the inner ear, so it is an important part of your ears. Ears clean themselves, so inserting anything into your ears is not helpful and may even be dangerous: if you insert it too far, a cotton swab can damage your ear drum or other sensitive organs.
- Have Them Checked
Regular hearing examinations are important to evaluate your hearing. Hearing loss is gradual and can go unnoticed until a lot of irreversible damage has already been done. Yearly screenings can help you to detect hearing loss early and halt it before it worsens.
Hearing loss can be arrested and sometimes treated if caught early, so don’t wait. Come in today for a hearing test and take control of your hearing and your health!