Avoiding the external causes of hearing loss and taking care of your hearing health can help you maintain the quality of your hearing into old age.
Taking Charge of Your Hearing Health
While hearing loss is often the result genetics and aging, there can also be a variety of external causes. The decisions you make around your hearing day to day can have a significant impact on whether you experience with hearing loss, and the degree to which you experience it. Here are a few ways you can protect your hearing long-term.
Avoid Loud Noise
Loud noise exposure is one of the most common causes of hearing loss. It's important to do your best to avoid situations in which you will be exposed to loud, sudden noises, or loud noise for prolonged periods of time. These situations include concerts and factory environments. It's also a good idea to avoid listening to music on your headphones full blast.
Take Care When Removing Ear Wax
We typically advise against using cotton swabs to remove ear wax, because it can be quite dangerous! The cotton swab can easily reach the ear drum, and this delicate structure is very easily punctured by even the lightest pressure. While the puncture will eventually heal, it is very painful, may eventually lead to conductive hearing loss.
Wear Hearing Protection
It's not always possible to avoid situations in which you will be exposed to loud noise, especially if you work in noisy environments. For example, if you are a musician, work in a factory, or are an airplane pilot, loud noise may simply be part of your day-to-day life. Choosing to wear ear plugs or other hearing protection help protect your hearing in the long term.
Check Your Medications
Certain medications that damage the sensory cells of the cochlea in the inner ear may cause hearing loss. Medications that can cause permanent hearing damage include certain aminoglycoside antibiotics, as well as some cancer chemotherapy drugs. Diuretic medications for high blood pressure and heart conditions can also cause permanent hearing loss.
It may surprise you to learn that smokers are 70% more likely to develop hearing loss than non-smokers. As it turns out, nicotine and carbon monoxide in cigarettes deplete oxygen levels and constrict blood vessels all over your body, including the ones in your inner ear. Nicotine can also interfere with the neurotransmitters in the auditory nerve, which are responsible for telling the brain which sound you are hearing.
Get Tested Regularly
If you're at a high risk of noise-induced hearing loss (for instance, if you work in a noisy environment) make regular hearing tests a part of your medical routine, just like going to the dentist, or having a physical. And if you think you may already be experiencing some hearing less, get checked right away! The sooner your hearing loss is diagnosed, the more effective treatment and prevention methods will be.