Hearing damage is permanent and irreversible, so it’s very important to prevent or slow hearing loss by any means possible. Here are a few ways to protect your ears now and preserve your hearing health for the future.
- Adjust the Volume
Everywhere we go, we have access to entertainment: from TV to the movie theater, headphones and the radio. As a result, the World Health Organization has found that 1.1 billion young adults and teens around the world are at risk for noise-induced hearing loss because of over-use of audio devices.
If you enjoy listening to music or other entertainment through earbuds, protect your hearing by following the 60/60 rule: listen with headphones or earbuds no more than 60 minutes per day at no more than 60% volume.
Over-the-ear headphones are also recommended instead of ear buds, because they expose the ear drum to less direct sound waves.
- Wear Ear Protection
Loud environments, such as a factory setting, concerts, clubs, lawnmowers and other loud tools can contribute to noise-induced hearing loss, even with limited exposure.
It has been found that about 15% of Americans suffer from hearing loss that was induced because of environmental noise in work or other environments.
Earplugs can be very helpful in preserving your hearing ability, and can be purchased cheaply almost anywhere. Custom earplugs are also available for musicians and others that need special features, such as ability to hear conversations and music while still limiting exposure to loud noise. Ask your audiologist if you are interested in custom ear plugs.
- Allow for Recovery Time
If you are in a particularly loud environment, like a concert or club, try to take 5 minutes to step away from the noise several times to allow your ears to rest.
Also, our ears need at least 16 hours of quiet to recover from a loud night out.
- Take Medicine Sparingly and Only as Recommended
It has been found that NSAIDS such as ibuprofen, aspirin and naproxen can cause hearing loss, so take these medicines only when absolutely necessary.
- Cut out Cotton Swabs
Many people use cotton swabs to clean ear wax from the ear canal, but not only is this not necessary, it is not recommended. Ear wax is important to protect our ear canals. The ears are self-cleaning, with wax helping to stop dust and harmful particles from entering the ear canal. Additionally, inserting anything in your ear risks damage to the sensitive ear drum and other organs.
Excess wax can be cleaned out with a damp towel or with an over-the-counter solution, which softens wax and allows it to come out on its own. If you are concerned, ask your audiologist if anything more need be done.
- Move Around
Cardiovascular exercise—the kind that gets your heart going—like walking, running or riding a bike, pumps your blood and improves circulation to your whole body—including your ears. The inner parts of the ear depend on blood and oxygen flow to function optimally and prevent damage as we age.
- Don’t Stress Out
High levels of stress have been linked with tinnitus, or ringing in the ears. Stress and anxiety limit blood flow, tense up the body and puts pressure on nerves. Take some time to relax and think about all of the things you are thankful for—gratitude has been proven to reduce stress!
- Keep Them Dry
Moisture can get trapped in the ear canal and cause infections such as swimmer’s ear, which can in turn affect hearing ability. After swimming or bathing, gently towel-dry your ears. If you still feel moisture inside your ears, tilt your head and tug on your ear lobe or lay down on that side for a few minutes to allow the water to drain out naturally.
Swimming ear plugs can be used to prevent water getting into the ear canal as well. Just be sure to get ear plugs that fit well, or water can still get in and become trapped in the ear canal. Ask your audiologist about swimming ear plugs if you do a lot of swimming.
- Have Regular Screenings
Annual hearing exams are crucial to hearing health, because hearing loss occurs very gradually, often unnoticed until it has become a problem. With regular screenings, you can catch hearing loss early and prevent further damage.
Los Gatos Audiology is here to help you protect your hearing and your health. Call today and come in for your yearly hearing exam so you can stay ahead of the curve and protect your hearing, your brain and your health.
We’ve served San Jose and the Bay Area for over 40 years, providing the right solution for Your Life. Your Style.