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Do you take your ears for granted? Well, you shouldn’t. Hearing loss is reported as the third most common health problem in the U.S., right after heart disease and arthritis. If you have normal and healthy hearing, you might wonder how you can do your best to maintain it. Here are some steps that you can proactively take to help maintain your hearing health. And don’t worry, most are quite practical and simple enough to add into your everyday life.
Manage Stress levels
Stress and anxiety have been linked to both temporary and permanent tinnitus (a phantom ringing in the ears). High levels of stress cause your body to go into fight or flight mode, which is an instinctual reaction that fills your body with adrenaline to help you either fight or flee from danger. This process puts a lot of pressure on your nerves, blood flow, body heat, and more. It’s commonly thought that this pressure and stress can travel up into your inner ear and contribute to tinnitus symptoms.
To help avoid damaging your hearing:
Use noise-cancelling earphones or headphones – don’t just turn the volume up to cover up outside noise
Turn the volume up just enough so you can hear your music comfortably, but no higher
Don’t listen to music at more than 60% of the maximum volume – some devices have settings you can use to limit the volume automatically
Don’t use earphones or headphones for more than an hour at a time – take a break for at least 5 minutes every hour
Even just turning down the volume a little bit can make a big difference to your risk of hearing damage.
Get Regular Checkups:
Ask your primary care physician to incorporate hearing screenings into your regular checkups. Because hearing loss develops gradually, it’s also recommended that you have annual hearing consultations with a hearing healthcare professional. That way, you’ll be more likely to recognize signs of hearing loss and take action as soon as you do.
Taking action is important because untreated hearing loss, besides detracting from quality of life and the strength of relationships, has been linked to other health concerns like depression, dementia, and heart disease.
Keep your ears Dry:
Excess moisture can allow bacteria to enter and attack the ear canal. This can cause swimmer’s ear or other types of ear infections, which can be dangerous for your hearing ability. Be sure you gently towel-dry your ears after bathing or swimming. If you can feel water in the ear, tilt your head to the side and tug lightly on the ear lobe to coax the water out.
You can also ensure that your ears stay dry and healthy by using custom-fit swimmers’ earplugs, which block water from entering the ear canal. They’re great for adults and kids alike, and they work wonders in preventing swimmer’s ear.
Limit Exposure To Semi-Loud Noises:
Even sounds that aren’t excessively loud can and do cause harm if you listen to them for too long. Sounds are measured using decibels; the higher the number of decibels (dB), the shorter the length of time your ears should have to bear it. According to experts, anything over 70 dB can be damaging to the ears. For example, being exposed even for a short amount of time to a sound with the dB rating of 120 can permanently damage your hearing. However, being exposed for an extended amount of time to sounds just over 70 dB can still cause harm.
Wear Ear Protection:
If you find yourself working in an environment that exposes you to loud noises, it’s crucial to wear proper ear protection. Different types of ear protection are available, including disposable earplugs, custom-made earplugs, earmuffs and noise-cancellation headphones. In addition, you should have your ear protection on at home while using a lawnmower or power tools, as well.
If you have already taken the precautionary steps mentioned above, but know people around you who do not, it is important that you guide them as well. Ear protection is essential to keeping your ears and hearing healthy for years to come. Talk with a hearing care professional in your area to find out more about ear protection and what option would be best for your circumstances.
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