Ten Ways to Protect Your Hearing

Loss of hearing and vision is the number one cause of disability in the world. Some people are born deaf, or with hearing difficulties, and others become hard of hearing or deaf as they get older.

Hearing loss is an expected part of the aging process. However, doctors are becoming increasingly alarmed at the number of younger people coming to them with hearing loss.

Prevention and early diagnosis are two of the best ways to care for your hearing health. Here are ten easy things you can do to help prevent hearing loss.

1. Keep the Volume Down

Young people all seem to be walking around with earbuds or headphones attached to their music players or smartphones, phablets and tablets to watch movies or play games. They also tend to use earbuds or clip-ons to talk on the phone. Trying to keep the volume down will lower the risk of hearing becoming damaged over time.

According to the World Health Organization, 1.1 billion teenagers and young adults worldwide are at risk due to their use of audio devices, with earbuds considered the most unsafe because they are so close to the eardrum. If you like music, use headphones and follow the 60/60 rule, meaning you have the headphones at no more than 60% volume for no more than 60 minutes a day.

2. Use Earplugs around Loud Noises

This is a must if you work in a noisy environment, use noisy equipment, or go to noisy places such as concerts and loud bars. Noisy environments would include construction sites and entertainment venues. Noisy equipment would include musical instruments, lawnmowers, chainsaws or jackhammers. If you have to raise your voice to talk to someone else nearby, it can be considered a noisy environment with dangerous levels of sound.

There are disposable and reusable earplugs, often made out of wax or other flexible, moldable substances. You can also go to an ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialist (an otolaryngologist) or hearing center to have a pair custom-fitted for your ears.

For example, many musicians have custom earplugs because of the nature of their job. Their earplugs will filter out harmful sounds while still allowing them to hear conversations and the music.

3. Give Your Ears a Break

Don’t listen to music every waking moment of the day. Try to relax without media switched on.

4. Don’t Use Cotton Buds Too Often

They can damage the ear if you poke them in too far, or pack in the earwax you are trying to remove and muffle your hearing or harm your eardrum.

5. Take Medications Only as Directed

Some medications can actually affect your hearing. Be sure to read all the instructions and literature that comes with any new medicine you take.

6. Keep Your Ears Dry

This will help avoid muffled sounds, fungus, and swimmer’s ear, where water can go deeper into the ear and cause infection or damage. Use a corner of your towel to dry your ear, but don’t poke it in the ear canal.

7. Stress Less

Stress has been linked to ringing in the ears (known as tinnitus), which can become permanent.

8. Work Out More

Exercise is good for your hearing provided you are not doing it with the music blasting. Aerobics pumps health-giving oxygen to all parts of the body.

9. Avoid Hits to the Head

A shock to the head, such as concussion, can harm hearing. American football can be a risk factor and if you cycle, wear a helmet.

10. Get Regular Check-ups

The doctor will usually examine your ears as part of an annual physical. If you have any ear symptoms, go to a doctor - the sooner a potential problem is discovered, the better.