There are few things more frustrating than having to ask someone to repeat what they just said because you couldn’t quite make it out. Unfortunately, hearing loss is all too common. It’s something that’s unlikely to change given the widespread use of headphones, car stereos, and home theater systems.
The good news is that there are a few simple steps that, if taken, can head hearing loss off at the pass. So, what can you do to ensure your hearing remains good well into your later years?
1. Keep the Music Down
It’s not that complicated. Hearing loss is often caused by trauma associated with extremely loud sound, from noisy vehicle engines/exhaust to concert speakers to power tools like drills and saws.
But hearing loss is often caused by excessively loud music played through headphones, home theater systems, or car stereos. To ensure your hearing doesn’t start to fade, keep the music down, especially when listening through headphones.
2. Seek Silence
The best way to prevent hearing loss is to be proactive about keeping noise down. That means ensuring everyone in your home keeps the noise, from home speakers to power tools and car exhaust systems, at a reasonable level.
It can also mean buying items that are engineered to be more quiet. Keep the noise level down by buying vehicles, appliances, and electronic devices that have low noise ratings. Keep noise in mind whenever making purchases for your home.
3. Protect your Ears
It’s simple: if you know you’re going to be in an area with a lot of loud noise, protect your precious ear drums. That means wearing high-quality ear plugs or ear coverings when on construction sites or going to concerts.
And it’s not just special occasions that should make you bring out the ear protection. Be sure to protect your ears when using loud machinery to do yard work or complete a home project. Remember: your hearing is worth it.
4. Avoid Smoking
There are literally dozens of reasons to stop or avoid smoking: it makes breathing difficult, raises your risk of various cancers, smells awful, colours your teeth yellow, reduces the value of your home and car…the list goes on.
But many people don’t realize that smoking can also affect your hearing. Research has shown that smoking tobacco increases the risk of hearing loss by an incredible 70 percent, making this yet another reason to butt out.
5. Take Special Care when Removing Earwax
There’s no denying that the feeling of excessive earwax is an uncomfortable one. That’s why so many people turn to Q-tips for removing earwax from their ears. Trouble is, this process poses a real danger to your eardrums.
The problem is that using a cotton swab to clean your ears can actually push wax deeper into the ear canal, potentially damaging your eardrums. That’s why experts recommend using home irrigation kits to safely and effectively remove earwax.
6. Watch your Medication
We’ve all seen the medication commercials that list off a dozen or more potential side effects. Often, it elicits a chuckle. But there are actually hundreds of medications that can contribute to hearing loss, and there’s nothing funny about that.
In fact, a number of medications for cancer affect our hearing. Experts have even found that high dosages of aspirin can harm the ears. If you’re concerned about how your medication, over the counter or prescription, is affecting your hearing, talk to your doctor.
7. Get your Hearing Tested
It’s difficult to know how your ears are functioning without being properly tested by a professional. A hearing test can tell you if you need to make lifestyle changes to preserve your hearing.
Be sure to make an appointment for a hearing test if you have close relatives with hearing loss, have trouble hearing during conversations, or find yourself hearing a ringing noise. It’s also a good idea to get your hearing tested if you’re around loud noises on a regular basis.
8. Limit your Headphone Use
Arguably, the easiest way to prevent hearing loss is to limit the amount of time you spend using headphones. The problem is that headphones project noise directly into your ear, and while it adds to the music-listening experience by immersing you in sound, it poses a huge threat to your hearing.
To prevent hearing loss, limit the amount of time you spend using headphones and keep the volume down. Be sure to have this conversation with your family and especially children. Chances are they’re not aware of the dangers posed by headphones.