PROTECT YOUR HEARING

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.    Reduce the Volume

Entertainment is everywhere: music follows us with our earbuds, we watch TV at home and listen to the radio in the car on the way to the movie theater, restaurant or ball game.

The World Health Organization found that over 1 billion teens and young adults in the world are at risk for noise-induced hearing loss as a result 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.

2.    Use Ear Protection

Noise in our environments like concerts, sporting events, a factory work setting, lawnmowers and other loud tools can contribute to noise-induced hearing loss, even if we are only occasionally exposed.

Approximately 15% of adults in the U.S. have hearing loss that is a result of environmental noise.

One very easy way to protect you hearing and prevent hearing loss is to carry earplugs. Earplugs are inexpensive, compact, and very helpful in preserving hearing. They can be purchased cheaply at almost any local drug or grocery store. Musicians and others that need special features can purchase custom earplugs that allow them to hear conversations and music while still limiting exposure to loud noise, for example. Ask your audiologist if custom ear plugs may be right for you.

3.    Recovery Time After Exposure

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.

4.    No Need for Cotton Swabs

 Cotton swabs are both unnecessary and not recommended for cleaning the ears. Ear wax serves an important function in protecting our ear canals. Our ears are self-cleaning, and wax helps to prevent dirt, dust and bacteria from entering the ear canal and reaching our brains. Inserting anything too far into the ear jeopardies the sensitive ear drum, so don’t risk it.  

If you have excess wax, try cleaning your ears with a damp towel or with an earwax softening solution. If you think you have an overproduction of wax, ask your audiologist if anything else should be done.

5.    Avoid NSAIDs Whenever Possible

Over the counter anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDS, such as ibuprofen, aspirin and naproxen can cause hearing loss. This is called ototoxicity. It is often temporary but over time can become permanent, so take these medicines sparingly.

6.    Cut Out Stress

Tinnitus (ringing in the ears) can be triggered by high levels of stress. Anxiety and stress are well-known to limit blood circulation. In addition, it tenses up the body and puts pressure on the nerves. Take some time today and every day to relax. Think about the things for which you are grateful: thankfulness is a confirmed stress relief!

7.    Get Moving!

Exercise that that gets your heart pumping improves circulation to your whole body, including your ears. Any movement counts: walking, running or riding a bike are all great. Blood and oxygen flow are vital to the inner parts of the ear and help your hearing to function optimally.

8.    Dry is Best

Infections such as swimmer’s ear can be caused by moisture trapped in the ear canal. Infections can affect hearing ability either temporarily or even permanently. Gently dry your ears with a towel after bathing or swimming. If moisture can still be felt in your ears, lay down on the affected side or tilt your head and pull gently on your ear lobe to allow the water to come out naturally.

Ear plugs designed specifically for swimming are also great to prevent water from getting trapped in the ear canal. Ensure the ear plugs fit well, or moisture can still seep in and get stuck in your ear canal. If you do a lot of swimming, it’s a good idea to ask your audiologist about swimming ear plugs.

9.    Annual Screenings

Annual hearing exams are vital to hearing health. Hearing loss happens progressively, and often is overlooked until it has developed significantly. With regular screenings, you can catch hearing damage before you notice it yourself to prevent further loss.

Here at California Hearing Center we are committed to your hearing health. Call us today to set up an appointment for a hearing screening. We can discuss hearing aid options with you and work with you to find one that fits your budget.

TRAINING YOUR HEARING: A MARATHON, NOT A SPRINT

If you have hearing loss, it’s a good idea to take positive steps to avoid further hearing damage. Here are five “workouts” to help strengthen your hearing skills.

Regular Exercise

Staying active all day long will help to keep blood circulating, which provides benefits to all areas of your body, including your ears.

Even light exercise is great, just as long as you do some of it every day. You can jog, cycle, or walk. Even stretching exercises like yoga and Pilates can qualify. And if you do a lot of gardening or housework—you know that can get your heart pumping as well!

Just remember, if you exercise to the tune of music, try to keep the volume low, especially when using ear buds. Noise-induced hearing loss is the most common type, and music is a repeat offender.

Stretching

Did you know that deep breathing and stretching exercises like in yoga can also help improve hearing?

We hear all the time that yoga has a lot of health benefits, and it can strengthen hearing by increasing blood flow to your ears, among other areas. Deep breathing and stretching are a light exertion and count as exercise!  

Where there is increased blood flow your body can also detoxify effectively, which can improve nerve function. All of these factors are positive and can help maintain healthy hearing.

Puzzles and Games

If I asked you which organ plays the biggest role in your hearing, you might say your ears, but you would be wrong! Your brain is the powerhouse when it comes to hearing and listening comprehension. Your ears are like sound funnels: they carry the sound in, but your brain translates and makes those sounds understandable to you. Therefore whatever you do to exercise your brain will positively impact your hearing skills too.

The brain needs exercise just as much as the rest of your body does! Games, riddles and puzzles like crossword puzzles, Sudoku and word searches are not only fun, they also serve as brain exercises which combats atrophy. Atrophy is known as demntia when it begins to not only affect your hearing but your mental capacity and reasoning abilities.

Pretty much any game counts here: social games like poker, bingo and hearts are a workout for your brain while being a fun activity with friends.

Practice Focus

You can find hearing exercises online or from your audiologist as well. These exercises are meant to improve your hearing capabilities and give you good practice at distinguishing sounds.

Here’s an exercise to try that can help you focus and train your hearing in an environment with a lot of distracting background noise:

Turn your TV or radio on so you can hear it clearly. Next turn on music or another competing noise. Have someone else walk around the room you are in, reading sentences from newspaper or a book. With your eyes closed, repeat the sentences back, and picture where they are in the room. This exercise in concentration can help you a lot with focus in an environment with a lot of background noise.  

Concentrate

Here’s one more exercise that you can do when you are alone almost anywhere. If you are at a park or a restaurant or anywhere else, close your eyes and open your ears. Pick out the noises around you. Recognize the sound and pinpoint its location. This exercise will help you to interpret sounds and focus in environments where there is a lot of background noise.  

Your physician or audiologist will be happy to do annual hearing evaluations with you to detect changes in hearing ability much more quickly than you could notice it yourself. The earlier hearing loss is detected the better. Devices and exercises can work to stop the progression of hearing damage so it doesn’t worsen.

Here at California Hearing Center we are committed to your hearing health. Call us today to set up an appointment for a hearing screening. We can discuss hearing aid options with you and work with you to find one that fits your budget.