Statistics tell us that half of all of the 32 million Americans who have hearing loss are over the age of 65. What is ironic is that two members of our family meet the criteria. My 91-year-old father has had problems with his hearing for a number of years, and my sister who is just hitting her early sixties has also had hearing problems for many years. While the reasons for hearing loss vary, many people suffer noise induced hearing loss that happens over time which is what happened to Dad.
You may not be surprised to hear that blasting a radio or listening to music through headphones can damage the hearing, but you’ll probably be surprised to learn that everyday items such as blow dryers, blenders and lawn mowers can lead to noise induced hearing loss.
Imagine all the items that produce loud noises and how these sounds can eat away at your hearing over time. Fortunately, there are ways to protect your hearing and minimize the chances of noise induced hearing loss.
Avoid Loud Noise
The best way to keep your hearing strong is by avoiding loud noises. Of course, this isn’t always a realistic option, but it’s a goal to work toward. If you know you will be around a lot of loud noises such as working with power tools or riding on a motorcycle, be sure to wear some type of ear protection like earmuffs or earplugs. You can also carry around earplugs to have on hand for unexpected situations.
Sometimes, however, you do have control over the noise levels around you. In these cases, turn down the source of the noise. Also consider how your home is laid out. If you can spread out some of the noisy appliances, you will inadvertently protect your hearing. For example, if you have your TV in a family room right off the kitchen where the dishwasher and microwave are running, you’ll be more likely to turn up the TV. Since you probably can’t rearrange your home to much extent, think about the appliances you have running and avoid the noises from echoing off each other.
Protect Your Ears
Not only is ear protection important for loud noise situations but also when swimming. Since this aerobic exercise is often recommended for elders, it’s important to have swim plugs on hand to prevent water from entering the ears. If contaminated water gets into the ear canal, it can cause infection, which can in turn damage your hearing. And if you are to suffer symptoms of an ear infection, see your doctor immediately.
Another effective way to have healthy hearing is by caring for your ears properly. Although tempting, don’t stuff your ears with cotton swabs. Instead, use the swabs to clean around the ears, and don’t worry so much about earwax. It may not look that nice on the outside, but earwax is actually beneficial and helps protect the eardrums. If you have an excess of earwax, consult your doctor or purchase an over-the-counter cleaning kit that won’t damage your eardrums.
Monitor Your Medication
As you grow older, you’re more likely to take medications, but some of these medications can lead to hearing impairment. Taking six to eight aspirins a day, for example, is known for causing ringing in the ears and leading to temporary hearing loss. There are also certain types of antibiotics that can cause a loss in hearing. When taking any new medications, make sure you ask your doctor about the potential effects they may have on your hearing. Also re-read the information on current medications you’re taking to ensure they aren’t culprits of ear ringing.
Live a Healthy Lifestyle
Finally, having a healthy lifestyle is an excellent way to protect your hearing. High fat and high cholesterol foods are bad for your health since they clog the arteries surrounding the ears and reduce blood flow. Eating balanced keeps the arteries open so that blood flow can move along as it should and keep hearing at its peak. Exercising also stimulates blood circulation, lowers blood pressure and keeps your ears in good condition.
Hopefully, this information will help you protect your ears before it is too late. Young people should especially know what can happen when around loud noise for any length of time. No matter how old you are, you need to be careful that you don’t harm your ears – you will want to be able to hear the rest of your life.