Preventing Hearing Loss | Tips for a Long Life of Hearing
Hearing loss is a common ailment that affects millions of people. With the increase in technology and more jobs becoming sedentary, hearing loss is on the rise. People are looking for solutions to help prevent hearing loss or at least slow down its progression. We will provide some tips on how you can avoid hearing loss as well as what to do if you have already begun noticing a reduction in your ability to hear sound.
It is important to take care of your ears. You can begin by avoiding loud noises and music through headphones, earbuds, or earphones. Listening to loud sounds for extended periods can be harmful. It's best to limit your exposure, about 30 minutes at a time. Also, avoid listening with the volume too high; once you begin to notice the noise is uncomfortable, you should immediately turn it down. Even if your sounds are turned down low, they can still add up over time and cause permanent damage to your ears.
Tips on How to Avoid Hearing Loss
- Protect your ears while at work: If you are exposed to loud machinery, music (including personal listening devices) during the day, or if you work in a particularly noisy environment–protect your ears! Wear some sort of hearing protection device that will block out harmful noise. These can be either custom-fit plastic earplugs or a pair of muffs that fit around your ear and protect the ear canal. If you already have hearing loss, it is especially important to wear protection when engaging in noisy activities.
- Use ear protection when engaged in activities that put you at risk for noise-induced hearing loss: These include shooting guns (especially without adequate ear protection), going to loud concerts, and using power tools or yard equipment.
- Avoid extremely loud noise: If you must be around very loud noise for some time, listen to some quieter sound from a personal listening device between exposures. For example, if you have construction work being done in your home or workplace, use earplugs or other ear protection, and take breaks by listening to music on your MP3 player.
- Avoid drug and alcohol use: If you drink, limit yourself to no more than two drinks per day if you are a man, and one drink a day if you are a woman. Avoid illegal drugs and excessive amounts of prescription or over-the-counter medications that can damage your hearing.
- Eat healthy foods: Healthy diets that include plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables provide essential nutrients to keep your ears healthy. This may go a long way toward preventing noise-induced hearing loss, Meniere's disease, or chronic ear infections associated with allergies.
- Reduce stress: If you get stressed out easily, try exercises such as yoga, meditation, visualization, or massage therapy to help reduce the effects of stress on your body.
- Don't smoke: Nicotine is a vasoconstrictor, meaning it causes blood vessels to constrict or narrow which can damage the tiny capillaries in the inner ear that carry sound and balance information to the brain from the cochlea. Smoking also increases your risk for hearing loss by increasing your risk for ear infections and osteoporosis, which can both cause hearing loss.
- Turn the volume down on your media players: Listening to loud music for too long can damage your hearing. 5. If you think that your hearing is not as good as it used to be after exposure to noise or listening to something really loud, see your doctor.
Additional information: More and more people work in noisy environments and live with media players and other devices that can damage their hearing if they are not used properly. It is important to protect your ears from loud noise and try to lower the volume on MP3 players, iPods, televisions, radios, etc. Exposure to loud noise can destroy hair cells in your inner ear that help you hear. People who have been exposed to loud noise over a long time tend to lose their hearing more quickly and have a harder time understanding speech. You should always turn the volume down when listening through headphones or earbuds, especially if you cannot hear anything else around you.
Don't forget loud music played at a party or bar can also be dangerous to your hearing. If you find yourself in a situation where your ears are being exposed to very loud noise for more than 15 minutes, it is advisable to step away from the source of sound or wear earplugs. You should not have to yell over people at a loud party or bar.
- Lack of sleep can affect your concentration, memory, and ability to learn. It also impacts your hearing. According to a study conducted by Johns Hopkins Children's Center in Baltimore, USA, insufficient sleep could result in slower activity in the brain that is associated with hearing loss. The study was released in 2012.
Researchers observed four groups of children: the first group slept in a quiet environment, the second group in a noisy one and the third and fourth groups were allowed to sleep or stay awake as they wished. When researchers electrically stimulated their brains with repetitive clicks while they listened to sounds, children who slept for less than eight hours responded slower than those who got at least 8 hours of sleep.
One of the main take-home points is that if you're not sleeping well, you might be putting yourself at risk for hearing loss," said senior author Bradley Welling, M.D., M.A.C.P., director of the division of otology, neurotology, and skull base surgery at Johns Hopkins Children's Center. "In addition, you might be putting your child at risk for hearing loss if they're not sleeping well. This is a new area of interest to look at and study."
- Beware of sleeping with the iPod.If your child falls asleep with earbuds in his ears; he should remove them at bedtime. Putting pressure on the earpieces when they're in your ears, such as by lying on your side, can create a vacuum that prevents the eardrum from vibrating naturally and may damage inner-ear cells. This is especially true in children and young adults who still have growing and developing ears.
The good news is that you can prevent hearing loss and protect your ears from damage by making a few changes in the way you live. If these tips resonate with you, we recommend seeking out an audiologist to get fitted for custom earplugs (if necessary) and follow their recommendations about how often they should be replaced. For more information on preventing hearing loss or protecting your ears, please contact us today!