Hearing is a sense that many of us take for granted. Throughout our lives, we subject our ears to loud sounds–music, power tools, lawn mowers, air travel–without using ear protection. Regrettably, this can cause hearing loss. Also, the natural aging process generally results in hearing loss. Even certain illnesses and medications can adversely affect our hearing. Unfortunately, this type of hearing loss is permanent.
The good news is, even if you already have some hearing loss, it's never too late to preserve your hearing for the years ahead. First, get a baseline hearing screening to assess your level of hearing loss. Going forward, protect your ears in noisy environments. Also, avoid using cotton swabs to clean your ears.
If hearing loss is found during your hearing evaluation, it could be due to excess ear wax or infection. This type of hearing loss is reversible. If hearing loss stems from chronic exposure to loud noise, aging, or certain illnesses and medications, hearing aids are the best way to preserve your good hearing.
The great news about today's hearing aids is how small and easy to wear they are. Modern digital hearing aids use super-tiny microprocessor technology–making them virtually invisible when worn. Hearing aids can help almost all degrees of hearing loss–from a little to a lot. And, by stimulating your brain with sound that might not otherwise reach it, hearing aids help keep your brain active, which lowers your risk for cognitive diseases, such as dementia.
If you suspect you may have hearing loss, don't ignore it. Neglecting a hearing loss can have a snowball effect–making it grow bigger, faster than necessary.
Here are 10 ways you can limit hearing damage and preserve good hearing:
- Understand the sound levels of the noises in your environment.
- Learn about proper ear protection. There are many kinds on the market today, ranging from custom ear molds to foam plugs and more.
- Put physical distance between you and loud noise when it is present. If possible, stand at an angle from the noise, not directly in front of it.
- Take breaks when you are exposed to noise.
- When listening to music through headphones or earbuds, keep the volume low-to-medium.
- Know the signs of hearing loss, and measure yourself against them.
- Schedule a baseline hearing evaluation. Hearing loss is on the rise among Baby Boomers and young people. It's never too early to get your hearing checked, but don't wait past age 50.
- Have your hearing evaluated by a professional licensed by your state.
- If you have hearing loss caused by a reversible condition, take steps to correct it.
- If any permanent hearing loss is diagnosed, choose hearing aids to slow it down, and preserve good hearing.