If you notice that you have trouble hearing, don’t simply accept it as a natural part of getting older. Untreated hearing loss can lead to emotional problems, including depression and dementia.
The earlier hearing loss is noticed, the sooner it can be stopped or slowed down. This is because ear damage tends to occur gradually over time.
Avoid Loud Environments
If you spend a lot of time in noisy environments, that can affect your hearing. Loud noises are the second most common cause of hearing loss, and they can be more damaging than presbycusis (normal aging-related hearing loss). To protect your hearing, try to limit the amount of time you’re exposed to loud noises, and be sure to listen at safe volume levels (if you’re listening with headphones, they should have a decibel level listed on them).
Noise is measured in decibels, and anything above 85 dB can cause immediate damage to your ears. It’s also good to wear personal protective equipment such as ear defenders or plugs when working in noisy places, such as a construction site. The same goes for recreational activities like loud concerts or simply riding a train or bus through a big city.
In addition, certain medical conditions can also affect your hearing, such as diabetes or high blood pressure. If you have a chronic condition that is impacting your hearing, be sure to see your doctor for treatment and care.
Besides loud environments, other things that can contribute to hearing loss are smoking, poor diet, lack of physical activity, and stress. Quitting these habits can have a positive effect on your hearing.
People with hyperacusis can develop an intense sensitivity to sounds, making even paper rustling and conversations seem unbearably loud. This can make it hard for them to socialize or go to work and can have an impact on their mental health as well.
If you suffer from hyperacusis, it can be helpful to have a support network. A psychotherapist can help you to understand and manage your symptoms and help you to find healthy ways to cope with them. You can also learn to reduce the distress you feel from sounds by first recognizing that they aren’t dangerous and then gradually changing your reaction to them. When you’re in a loud environment, try to take slow steps to leave if possible. When you’re at home, you can use a mask to reduce the noise of cooking, washing, or chatting with family members.
Listen to Your Family and Friends
Most types of hearing loss are permanent, but you can slow the process down by following these steps. The earlier you can detect problems, the sooner deterioration can be stopped, and assistive devices, such as hearing aids or cochlear implants, can be used.
If you’re having trouble hearing certain high-pitched sounds or finding it hard to understand conversations, it’s time to see your GP and ask for a hearing test.
It’s also important to talk to family and friends about your hearing. They’ll be able to help you identify and discuss any issues that might arise, such as difficulty communicating in noisy environments or struggling to hear doorbells and alarms. Older people can feel cut off from others because they’re unable to communicate properly, which may worsen their mental health.
Keeping your hearing healthy also means avoiding loud environments, including music venues and sporting events, and reducing the amount of time you spend listening to headphones or earbuds. If you do wear headphones or earbuds, keep the volume low and take regular breaks so you can still hear those around you.
Another common cause of hearing loss is excess earwax, which can block your ears and lead to ringing in the ear (tinnitus). It’s best to gently wipe away any wax using warm or baby oil and regularly check your ear canals for build-up. You should also dry them after swimming or showering to prevent excessive moisture, which can cause infections and worsen your hearing.
Some medications can be ototoxic or damaging to the inner ear and cause hearing loss. If you’re taking any medication prescribed to you, discuss its effects with your GP to ensure it doesn’t affect your hearing.
People with hearing loss often struggle to admit they have a problem, but it’s essential to seek help as soon as possible. Otherwise, the condition can get worse over time and affect your ability to follow conversations or even recognize the faces of those closest to you. It can even increase your risk of falling and accidents because you might not be able to hear warning noises or traffic signals.
See Your Doctor
The most important thing you can do to prevent hearing loss is to see a doctor if you suspect that you have a problem. Damaged hair cells do not grow back, so if you notice any loss of hearing it is essential to visit a medical professional as soon as possible to evaluate the situation and get started on treatment.
A doctor will assess your symptoms and perform a basic hearing test, using a tuning fork to check the various parts of the ear that convert sound waves into signals that the brain understands. They will also ask questions to help pinpoint the cause of your hearing loss. If the doctor feels that your earwax is blocking your ear canal and causing hearing loss, they may suggest mild treatments to soften earwax, such as warmed olive oil or almond oil water.
In some cases, a doctor may refer you to an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) specialist or an audiologist. These doctors have more comprehensive tests and can recommend pharmaceutical treatments if necessary. They can also prescribe hearing aids or carry out surgery to correct underlying causes of hearing loss, such as calcified bones and benign tumors.
If your hearing loss is sudden, you should seek medical attention as it could be a sign of an emergency. Sudden conductive hearing loss, such as the inability to hear high-pitched sounds or muffling of voices, can be caused by a variety of factors, including wax, infection, ear syringing, pain, and tinnitus. You should also visit a doctor if you have ringing in your ears, which is another common symptom of hearing loss.
If you live a healthy lifestyle, your risk of developing hearing loss will be much lower. Avoiding loud noises, wearing earplugs and other hearing protection, and eating a balanced diet are good habits that keep your hearing in good condition. Also, speaking to your GP about any family history of hearing loss is a good idea, as some genetic ailments can cause it.
Wear Hearing Protection
If you already have hearing loss, there are ways to prevent it from worsening. The first step is to avoid loud noises and protect your ears when in public places. It is also important to see your doctor if you notice that you can’t hear certain sounds.
You can find earplugs in drug and grocery stores as well as online that can be purchased to protect your hearing. These earplugs are either molded or foam and can be placed in your ear canal to provide protection. You can also have custom earplugs made by your hearing professional to fit the shape of your ears.
Wearing protective earmuffs is a good option for working in loud environments. These are easy to use and consist of padded plastic or foam cups joined by an adjustable headband. They should cover both ears and must fit snugly so they can’t slip off. Eyeglasses or long hair can create gaps that don’t allow the earcups to seal properly. Choose earmuffs that are designed for your specific needs – foam earplugs work well against mid-frequency sounds, while molded plastic earplugs are better at protecting against low-frequency noises like the sound of a pneumatic drill.
In addition to wearing hearing protection, you can help keep your ears healthy by regularly cleaning them. Gently removing earwax with a cotton ball or wax removal tool can reduce the risk of infections and other problems in your ear canal. If you have an ear infection, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics or topical medication to treat it.
The most common types of hearing loss are conductive and sensorineural, and both can be prevented by avoiding loud noises and seeing your doctor if you experience a sudden change in your hearing. However, some hearing loss is irreversible, and if you start losing your hearing early in life, it can affect how you interact with your family and friends.