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.

WHAT ARE MY HEARING LOSS RISK FACTORS?

What are the risk factors for developing hearing loss? 

A risk factor is something that increases your odds of developing an ailment, issue or illness.

There are a few risk factors that commonly contribute to hearing loss, but there are other less common ones as well. The more of these risk factors you have the better your chances of developing hearing loss. Decreasing the risk factors will also decrease the likelihood you will suffer from hearing loss. 

Hearing Loss Risk Factors

Low Birth Weight

Premature birth and low birth weight are risk factors for hearing damage. Additionally, complications at birth like asphyxia and jaundice may increase the risk of hearing loss later in life. 

Genetic Conditions

Usher Syndrome, Otosclerosis and other genetic abnormalities can increase the risk for hearing loss. Also, conditions that change the structure or shape of the head and face are also risk factors.

Getting Older

Living our lives always results in some weathering of our whole bodies, including our ears. Age-related hearing damage (presbycusis) can be hereditary and progresses gradually. 

Noise 

Exposure to loud noise is the most common risk factor for hearing loss. It may be from a longer, repeated exposure over time (such as in a factory) or a short burst of very loud noise (like a gunshot). To prevent noise-related hearing loss, remember to bring ear protection like earplugs to lessen any injury. If you know you will repeatedly be exposed to loud noise, consider investing in custom ear plugs. 

Ototoxicity

Some medications, including NSAID drugs, certain types of antibiotics and chemotherapy can damage hearing temporarily or permanently. For example, high doses of aspirin can cause ringing in the ears or even temporary hearing damage in some people. When these medications are stopped the symptoms most often wane. Chemicals in agricultural or factory settings may also be ototoxic (causing hearing damage). Ototoxic chemicals can also be found in cigarettes. 

Diseases and Illnesses

Health issues like Meniere’s disease can affect inner ear fluid and lead to hearing damage. Tumors, vascular disease, diabetes and autoimmune disorders may similarly affect hearing health. Injury to the head or other trauma can also cause hearing loss. 

Medical Treatments

Aside from antibiotic medications and chemotherapy, radiation therapy can weaken hearing health, specifically when the radiation is focused in proximity to ears. 

The likelihood for hearing loss can increase with exposure to any of these influences, but it does not guarantee it. This is not an all-inclusive list, and if you try to decrease the known risk factors of hearing damage, you will be considerably less likely to develop hearing 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. 

HEARING RESOLUTIONS FOR 2019

With a new year comes a time to reflect on our old patterns and how to update our habits and improve ourselves. Do you typically make New Year’s Resolutions, and what is your track record at sticking to them?

Personally, I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions. I educate myself throughout the year and when I see changes that need to be made, I don’t wait for a new year to make them. Even so, I have been reflective on my habits and patterns this new year, thinking about things that I might like to change.

We all value our hearing. From conversing with friends and family to watching TV or listening to music, we use hearing almost continuously. Hearing health is something we take for granted, but when we begin to experience hearing loss we realize what a gift our hearing health has always been.

Fortunately, there are ways we can protect our hearing. Here are a few easy things you can do right now to ensure your hearing health lasts as long as possible.

1.    Yearly hearing screenings are key. One of the easiest things you can do to protect your hearing is to get annual hearing evaluations at your audiologist. Since hearing damage is irreversible, it’s important to catch it early: even before you notice it. Hearing screenings are quick, easy, and often covered by insurance.

2.    Wear protective gear. Since the most common type of hearing damage is noise-induced hearing loss, it is important to protect your ears whenever you are in a noisy environment. Whether you are at work in a factory, at a firework show, or at a concert, be sure to protect your ears from loud noises. It’s a good idea to always carry earplugs. You never know when you will be in a noisy environment, so it’s good to be prepared.

3.    Keep the volume low. When we listen to music or watch TV on mobile devices using ear buds, it’s easy to have the volume at a level above 80 decibels, which is the threshold for hearing damage. It’s best to keep the volume at less than 60% of the maximum, and if you can use over-the-ear earphones with noise-canceling technology, that can prevent you from needing to turn the volume up as loud to hear your device.  

4.    Get custom-made. If you listen to a lot of music or if music is your business, it’s a good idea to get custom-made earplugs or earphone molds. They are relatively inexpensive and a great way to protect your hearing from noise-induced hearing loss. They are customized to fit your ear canal exactly. Not only do they deliver superior sound, they allow for better quality listening, so you can listen at a lower volume and prevent hearing damage.

The first step to halting hearing loss and preventing further damage is to recognize your situation. Come in today for a hearing screening and formulate a strategy to train your brain to listen actively and effectively.