According to the National Institute of Health, nearly one-third of people between 65 and 75 have some degree of hearing loss. Above 75 years old, the percentage rises to one in two; 50% of people above 75 years old have a hearing loss condition. Learning how to stop hearing loss is vital for those who want to keep their hearing as they age.
However, for younger individuals, implementing practices to prevent hearing loss may seem unnecessary. Many people believe they will never lose their hearing, but they are also unaware of how common and easy it is to do so.
Hearing loss seems to have become increasingly more common. Individuals who work in factories, work in construction, or even serve in the military can develop hearing conditions quickly. Environments such as those stated tend to have excessively loud noises that can damage the ears of those who are in the vicinity. Furthermore, certain drugs, both over the counter and prescription, have been shown to have links to hearing loss.
The Hearing Loss Association of America reports that between 40 and 50 million individuals have some degree of hearing loss.
To save your ears and your hearing, check out the list of ways to prevent hearing loss below.
How to Prevent Hearing Loss Naturally
1. Limit Your Exposure to Loud Noises
One of the easiest ways to reduce the likelihood of developing noise-induced hearing loss is to reduce your exposure to excessively loud noises. For example, going to live concerts frequently can significantly harm your hearing ability.
Some people who work at construction sites, airport grounds, and even those who work as musicians need to be especially considerate of the noises they encounter in daily life. Although things like this cannot be completely excised from your life, distancing yourself from the source of the sound may help.
Furthermore, after an experience where overly loud noises occurred, give your ears some time to rest and recover. Take breaks from loud noises after work or an event. Have you ever felt ringing in your ears after a concert, party, or other? That means you’re experiencing tinnitus; a condition that can be caused by being in loud noise environments.
2. Turn the Volume Down
Whenever you’re at home, in the car, at the gym, or in another position where you control the sound of the TV, music, or other, turn the volume down. If you use headphones, and you have the music turned all the way up, you’re putting your ears at serious risk for injury.
Loud noises that feed directly into your ears can significantly damage or impair the hair cells within your ears. Once damage occurs to these cells, they can never recover. That’s why hearing loss from noises is permanent, and something that should be taken seriously.
Turn the volume levels down in any scenario where you can control it. Keep the level where you can hear it comfortably, without straining, but not overly loud where it can cause damage.
3. Don’t Stick Anything in Your Ears
Never put anything in your ear. Many people like to use Q-tips or something similar to try and clean out their ears. However, this is unnecessary. Ears naturally clean themselves. Although this practice is done in good faith, it can actually cause injury. Doctors and ear specialists will tell you that this practice comes highly discouraged from those in the medical industry.
If you believe you have a wax buildup, forget the Q-tip. You can see a specialist who can clean out your ears. Only a professional who is trained and knowledgeable about the risks and best practices should do this. Most often, they will not put something inside your ear. Rather, they use a suction device that will suck any wax buildup from your ear.
4. Stay Active and Manage Your Blood Pressure
It’s widely known that exercise and good cardiac health pose benefits for all-around health. However, many individuals may be surprised to hear how beneficial exercise can be for hearing health. First, exercise helps reduce inflammation which may act in the natural degradation of hearing.
Additionally, regular exercise increases cardiac health and subsequently blood flow and pressure. Proper blood flow can help keep your ears healthy. Alternatively, poor blood pressure can damage blood vessels in the ear, leading to impaired hearing.
5. Quit Smoking and Limit Your Drinking
Smoking and excessive drinking have both been linked to numerous health problems. It’s no surprise then that the two habits also impact one’s hearing. A study published in Nicotine & Tobacco Research found a direct correlation between smoking and a higher chance of developing hearing loss. Specifically, regular smokers had a much greater risk of developing high-frequency hearing loss.
Smoking has various effects on the body. It can disrupt the release and effectiveness of neurotransmitters, damage the Eustachian Tube, and increase the chance of receiving noise-induced damage to hair cells.
Similarly, excessive alcohol consumption has its links to permanent hearing loss and tinnitus. Regular, excessive drinking increases the chance of injury to hair cells.
Alcohol in the blood creates a toxic environment that can damage the hair cells. Alcohol consumption is also known to affect the development of the auditory complex which can lead to a worsened ability to process sounds. Even in the short term, a night of over drinking can cause tinnitus. Furthermore
6. Be Aware of Any Medications You Take
Various drugs may increase the likelihood of developing hearing loss. These medications are known as ototoxic drugs. They may cause tinnitus, issues with balance, and ultimately, hearing loss. The process is similar to how alcohol can affect your hair cells. These ototoxic medications cause a toxic environment in the bloodstream which affects the tiny, delicate cells in the ear.
Right now, there are over 200 medications on the market that are known to be ototoxic. The medications are typically prescribed or taken for cancer, heart disease, and even some infections.
7. Be Aware of Your Family History
If you want to know how to avoid hearing loss, you should be aware of your family’s history with it. Knowing if your family has a history of hearing loss can help you prepare for the future.
If you know hearing loss is common in your family, you can take further precautions to protect your hearing. This knowledge should entice you more to stay away from loud noises, turn down the volume, and be aware of all the previous tips.
8. Get Your Hearing Tested
Similar to the previous tip, if you get your hearing tested, you’ll know how precautious you need to be going forward. If you’re hearing is already below average, you can take more precautions to ensure it doesn’t worsen more overtime. Although age-related hearing loss is common, there are ways you can protect yourself from it.
How to Prevent Hearing Loss in Old Age
As an elderly person, following all the previous stated tips will help you keep your hearing. However, there are a few more tips that may prove especially beneficial to the elderly population.
1. Avoid Loud Noises Whenever Possible
In your elderly years, it’s even more important to avoid loud noises compared to someone younger. An elderly individual is more likely to damage their hair cells as over time, they’ve likely experienced some degree of damage already. Staying away from small, enclosed areas may just save your hearing for a while longer.
2. Wear Hearing Protection
One of the most effective ways to protect your hearing is to wear hearing protection. You can wear earplugs, earmuffs, or various styles of headphones. These protection devices limit direct exposure to loud noises, thus saving your hair cells from potential noise-induced damage.
The best headphones to prevent hearing loss are those that are specifically rated as noise-canceling headphones. These directly act to minimize the amount of noise that enters your ear. Different styles use different methods to do this.
Today, many active noise-canceling headphones exist. These headphones are typically battery powered and use a technology that uses sound waves to dampen the sounds in your environment.
3. Keep Medical Conditions in Check
Various health conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and others have links to hearing loss. If these conditions get out of control, they may worsen your hearing. Keep an eye on your conditions, take your medication, and take any necessary precautions to control your condition.
4. See Your Doctor
If you believe your hearing is worsening, see your doctor immediately. Do not wait until your hearing gets unbearable. The sooner you see a doctor, the greater the chance of protecting your hearing is. Your doctor may prescribe medications, ask you to change your diet, encourage you to exercise more, or other. In the worst case, you may need hearing aids. Whether you believe you need them or not, hearing aids can help save your hearing and prohibit your hearing from getting worse.