PROTECT YOUR HEARING

July 15, 2019

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Dr. Darcy Benson

Dr. Benson completed her audiology fellowship at the California Ear Institute, Palo Alto, CA, and received her Doctor of Audiology degree at Salus University, Osborne School of Audiology, Elkins Park, PA. Prior to that, she received her Master of Science degree in Communication Disorders from Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO, and her Bachelor of Science degree in Speech Pathology and Audiology from the University of California, Santa Barbara, CA.
Dr. Darcy Benson

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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.