3 Ways to Protect Your Hearing
Can you really prevent hearing loss?
And if you protect your hearing, can you ensure that you will never experience a hearing loss? There are so many factors that can effect your hearing long-term, from loud noise exposure, to genetics, to traumas. As with most things, we can only worry about the things within our control. These 3 ways to protect your hearing are tangible and effective ways to take a proactive approach to your health.
The team at Levine Hearing is committed to helping you live your healthiest and happiest life! We say all the time, “When you hear better, you feel better”. Hearing is an essential way of connecting, not just with the environment around you but most especially with the people around you. We are passionate about educating our community on ways to prevent hearing loss. We visit doctors’ offices monthly to share information for their patients, we write blogs like these and share tips with you in our office.
Control the things you can and let go of those that you can’t. Below are the three most comprehensive points that we can make about ways that you can protect your hearing.
- Limit loud noise exposure: The thing about loud noise exposure is that it has a cumulative effect. While it is possible for one really loud BANG! to cause trauma to your ears, it is more common to see a much more moderate accumulation of sound exposure. For example, using power tools and lawn care tools for decades without using any hearing protection. The sounds don’t seem all that loud, but hours upon hours of exposure at even a moderately loud volume can leave lasting hearing loss. You’ve seen those disposable foam earplugs (works great!), and you may have even seen custom molded earplugs, but do you know about filtered earplugs? If you want to understand speech clearly, but cut out the extra loud noises that could hurt your hearing, a filtered earplug is an excellent way to protect your hearing. It will only block certain frequencies or volume.
- Maintain Healthy Lifestyle Habits: Did you know that diabetics are twice as likely to develop hearing loss? Those with heart disease are 54% more likely to have a hearing loss. Blood flow is important for the nerves of the ears to thrive and operate correctly. This is not an effort to blame a hearing loss or even the original disease on the individual, as these condition still have genetic, environmental and socioeconomic factors at play. Still, it is important to know that a healthier body overall, is a safer environment for the ear to operate in and therefore protect your hearing. Discuss any diseases or illnesses that you may be concerned about with your primary care doctor.
- Treat Illnesses Promptly: If an infection in the ear is left unchecked, complications can arise that can cause permanent damage. Even illnesses outside of the ear can ultimately result in hearing loss. Strong antibiotics and painkillers can be ototoxic (damaging to the ear), and while these cannot be 100% avoided, the sooner you are able to treat an illness, the less likely that you will need the strongest or longest doses of medications. It is important to be aware of the side effects of drugs before taking them as well. Many medications list hearing loss and possibly tinnitus (ringing or other sound in the ear) as possible side effects. While you can’t avoid them completely, being informed can help you weigh risks as you determine which medications you are willing to take and for what duration.
What if the damage has already happened?
I say to people all the time, “You still have more hearing to lose, so protect it now!”. It is not too late! No matter what your hearing loss looks like, choosing to protect your hearing, avoiding long-term exposure to loud sounds, living a healthy lifestyle and treating illnesses promptly can all help you to preserve your current hearing.
If hearing aids are recommended, just know that wearing them will not further damage your hearing. In fact, hearing aids have built-in compression to keep loud sounds from being overamplified. I still recommend taking them out to put in custom earplugs if you know you are going to encounter noise exposure, but for every day, loud sounds, you can keep them in and they will monitor and control the volume of the sound.
Remember that our hearing screenings are always free at Levine Hearing. We would love to test you and give you a copy of the results for your records. Prevention is always the goal and we are so happy to share these ideas to protect your hearing! Don’t underestimate the importance of a baseline hearing screening. If you do encounter damage to your ears through noise, medications or illnesses, you can actually compare to your previous results. Thank you for reading and leaving any questions or comments below!