The key to preserving hearing is prevention. Once hearing function has been diminished or lost, there is no way to reverse it. Unfortunately many do not realize all of the easy things we can do to protect our hearing while we still have it. Here are a few simple steps to prevent hearing loss and protect your hearing health now, before it’s too late.
Keep the Volume Low
Many people, especially teenagers and young adults, love to listen to music using headphones. The sound quality is great and you can take your music wherever you go! Using these devices, however, make it easy to keep the volume at unsafe levels. This puts 1.1 billion teenagers and young adults at risk for noise-induced hearing loss, according to the World Health Organization.
Protect Your Ears When Loud Noises are Unavoidable
When it’s within your control, adjusting the volume is easy. Sometimes, however, you are in a position that you can’t turn the volume down and a loud noise is unavoidable. Make it a habit of carrying earplugs with you for this inevitable circumstance. Whether you’re at a loud concert, mowing the lawn or are bothered by loud construction work outside your window, ear protection can be the difference in extending your hearing health as long as possible.
Recovery Time is Important
If your ears are exposed to loud noise, especially without protection, give them quiet time to recover. If possible, step outside or away from the noise periodically for 5 minute stretches to give your ears time to rest. Research has found that after one loud night out, our ears need about 16 hours of quiet to recover.
Kick the Cotton Swabs to the Curb
Cotton swabs are a common way for people to clean the wax out of their ears, but doctors do not recommend it. A little bit of wax build-up in your ears serves an important function: wax helps to protect your ears and keep them clean by trapping dust and other particles, preventing them from entering the ear canal. Inserting a cotton swab too deep in the ear canal also risks damaging the ear drum.
Some people do have excess wax, however. If that’s you, a damp towel can gently and effectively clean out the ear canal. Wax removal solution can also be used for severe cases: it softens the wax over a period of a couple of nights, allowing the wax to flow out on its own.
Dry Ears are Happy Ears
When excess moisture is trapped in the ear canal, this can breed bacteria that may cause swimmer’s ear or ear infections. Be sure to towel-dry your ears after bathing or swimming, and if you feel water trapped in your ear, tilt your head to the side and pull on your earlobe to allow the water to flow out. If that doesn’t work, lay down on the offending side for a few minutes. The relaxation and gravity should coax the water out.
If it is an ongoing problem, custom-fit swimmers’ earplugs are also a great option, and are available for both adults and children. Make an appointment to get fitted for a pair today!
Exercise Can Improve Hearing Health
You knew that moving was good for your heart and your waistline, but who knew it was also good for your ears? Cardiovascular exercise such as walking, biking and running increases circulation to all parts of your body, including your ears. And circulation is great for your ears: it keeps them healthy and performing at top levels!
Don’t Stress Out
Tinnitus (ringing in the ears) has been linked to high stress and anxiety, which fill your body with adrenaline. When this happens, your body heat, circulation and nerves take a hit, and this pressure can migrate to your inner ear, causing tinnitus symptoms.
Step Away From the Medicine
Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) such as ibuprophen, naproxen and aspirin have been linked to hearing loss in recent studies. Many people think they are safe because they can be bought without a prescription, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have dangers. Use these medications sparingly, especially if you’ve noticed any decrease in hearing ability when using them.
Have Your Ears Checked Regularly
Regular hearing screenings can make a big difference in catching hearing loss early, and preventing further damage. Hearing loss develops slowly, so yearly check-ups with a hearing professional can let you know as soon as there is an issue.
It’s important to know if you are experiencing a decline in hearing ability, and take steps to prevent further decline, because hearing loss is linked to more serious issues such as dementia, depression and heart disease.
Do your health a favor, and make an appointment at California Hearing Center to check your hearing today!