Since permanent hearing loss is irreversible, it is very important to slow and prevent hearing damage any way we can. Here are a few tips to help you protect your hearing now and prevent hearing loss in the future.
1. Protection is Key
Noise-induced hearing loss is the most common type, and it stems from noises around us like lawnmowers, fireworks, work environments and other loud settings. Even if we are only occasionally exposed, this damage has a cumulative effect.
The easiest way to prevent hearing damage is to carry earplugs with you wherever you go. Earplugs can be purchased almost anywhere: they are compact, inexpensive and easy to use. They even make specialized earplugs for musicians and other people who need them for specific reasons. These custom earplugs allow them to hear what they need to hear while blocking out harmful noise that can damage hearing. Your audiologist can help you decide if custom ear plugs are right for you.
2. Turn it Down!
We live in a world of constant entertainment: music, videos, radio, advertisements and other loud sounds constantly bombard our senses.
A recent study shows that over 1 billion young adults and teenagers are at risk for noise-induced hearing loss worldwide: this is as a result of the ubiquitous access to audio devices.
It’s great to be able to listen to music and entertainment with earbuds and our phones, and we can protect our hearing too. Follow the 60/60 rule: limit your earbud time to no more than 60 minutes per day, and at no more than 60% volume on any device.
Instead of earbuds, opt for over-the-ear headphones. They expose the ear drum to fewer direct sound waves.
3. Avoid Over-the-Counter Pain Meds
NSAIDS, over the counter anti-inflammatory drugs like naproxen, aspirin, and ibuprofen, are ototoxic. That means they can cause hearing loss (either temporary or permanent). Avoid these medicines whenever possible.
4. Give Yourself Recovery Time
If you are exposed to a lot of noise, as in a club or concert, try to take a few breaks in a quiet area while you are there. Just 5 minutes away from the noise several can allow your ears to rest and guard against permanent damage.
The next day try to take it easy as well: after a loud night out, our ears need at least 16 hours of peace to recover.
5. Nix the Cotton Swabs
Cotton swabs are a favorite for cleaning ears, but you have probably heard they are no longer recommended. The ear wax in our ears is a good thing: it helps to protect our ear canals and our brains from harmful invaders like bacteria, dust and dirt. Ear wax will naturally move down the ear canal and is easily removed with a towel after you shower. Cotton swabs or other items can damage the ear drum if inserting too deeply, so don’t take the risk.
An earwax softening solution or a damp towel can remove excess earwax if needed, and if you are concerned about overproduction of wax, speak to your audiologist.
6. Lower Your Stress
High levels of stress can trigger tinnitus and other issues, as well as other issues like lower blood flow. Anxiety also tenses the body, putting pressure on nerves and organs. Take deep breaths and take time out today and every day to relax your mind and your body. Think about the things for which you are thankful: gratefulness is a long-established stress relief!
7. Get Some Exercise!
Exercise gets your heart pumping and improves blood flow all over the body (including your ears)! All movement works! Walk around the block at a brisk pace, take a jog or a bike ride. Increased oxygen and circulation are crucial to the function of the inner ear to keep you hearing well.
8. Keep Them Dry
Swimmer’s Ear and other infection can result from moisture that gets trapped in the ear canal. Infections like this can temporarily or permanently affect hearing ability. Use a towel after bathing to gently dry your ears, avoiding cotton swabs. If you are uncomfortable because you can feel moisture in your ears, try laying down on the affected side or tilt your head and pull gently on your ear lobe to let water to flow out naturally.
Swimming ear plugs can also be a great option to prevent water from getting stuck in your ear canal. Just make sure the ear plugs fit well, or moisture could still get in and get trapped in the ear canal. If you swim a lot, ask your audiologist about swimming ear plugs.
9. Annual Hearing Tests
Annual hearing screenings are important for hearing health. Hearing loss is progressive, and it’s often is overlooked until it is too late. If you have regular screenings, you will catch hearing damage earlier; even before you notice it yourself.
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The information provided in this article is not meant to be medical advice and is for educational purposes only. If you would like to learn more about this and other topics related to audiology, feel free to contact Los Gatos Audiology, with a convenient hearing center located in Los Gatos, CA, by clicking here or by calling 408.703.0772.