Hearing is something we all take for granted until there's a problem. Hearing damage doesn't only affect senior citizens; in fact, it can happen to anyone. While some hearing loss is temporary, some forms are permanent.
It’s important to know how to care for your hearing because once it's damaged, it cannot be repaired. Below are a few facts that can help you preserve your hearing so you can avoid damage down the road.
Loud noises cause hearing loss
If you've ever been to a concert, you might have noticed that you don't hear as well afterward. Your hearing, however, probably recovered within a few hours to a day later. That's because hearing loss after infrequent exposure to loud noises is usually temporary. But repeated exposure takes a permanent toll on hearing health. An estimated 15 percent of Americans have experienced hearing loss due to loud noises. Repeated use of lawnmowers, loud kitchen appliances or frequenting noisy venues can erode your hearing. Listening to loud music or watching television with the volume turned up can be dangerous for your children's hearing. The World Health Organization estimates that 1.1 billion teenagers and young adults who use audio devices are in danger of hearing loss.
Here's how to protect it.
- Wear earplugs to reduce exposure whenever you are around loud noises.
- When using headphones or earbuds, use the 60/60 rule. Keep the volume at 60% and don't listen for more than 60 minutes.
Your ears need rest and exercise your hearing is a complex system involving sound waves, tiny bones, multiple chambers, hair cells and nerves to interpret sound vibrations for the brain. When your hearing is taxed in a loud environment, such as a concert or a noisy restaurant, taking a five-minute break in silence can help hearing recovery. Some experts say that hearing can take about 16 hours of rest to recover from one loud night. And while resting your ears, it might be helpful to go for a jog.
Cardiovascular exercise, such as running, jogging or fast walking, increases circulation to all areas of the body, including the working parts of your inner ear.
Cotton swabs can damage your ears
Believe it or not, a little ear wax is good for you. Wax is nature's way to protect your ear canal from dust and other harmful particles. Cotton swabs can push wax deeper into the ear canal, worsening wax build-up. They can also damage the eardrum. Clean your ears, instead, with a damp washcloth wrapped around your finger. If you are concerned about excess wax, you could use an over-the-counter wax softener to help wax flow out of your ear on its own. You could also ask your provider for an evaluation to determine the best course of action for keeping your ears clean.
Prevent ear infections by keeping your ears dry
Ear infections can be painful. Some children and adults are prone to earaches caused by water trapped in the ear after swimming, sweating or bathing. Be sure to gently towel-dry your ears to avoid bacteria attacking the ear canal. Wearing earplugs when swimming is an excellent way to keep water out of your ears to prevent infection.
Ear infections from wet ears or colds can cause temporary hearing loss, along with balance issues, trouble sleeping and pain. If you’re dealing with ear pain or even hearing loss after getting your ears wet or suffering from a cold, your provider is a great resource for relief and healing.
Identify hearing loss before it's too late
One of the best ways to protect your hearing is by getting regular checkups. Typically, hearing loss happens gradually, so an annual hearing consultation with a medical professional can help identify early hearing loss.
Age-related hearing loss is fairly normal. Approximately one in three people ages 65-74 experiences some degree of gradual loss in both ears. Hearing loss in one ear can indicate other problems. Regular hearing tests will provide baseline data for your provider to compare with later results if hearing loss becomes an issue. Your hearing test will most likely begin with your primary care provider. They may refer you to an audiologist for more in-depth testing. Your provider will check on how well your middle ear responds to loud sounds, your hearing proficiency at detecting changes in pitch, tone and volume and your speech recognition, which is how well you recognize subtleties in the pronunciation of words.
Where to get help for hearing loss
If problems are found, they could be related to nerve deafness. This type of hearing loss is caused by ear structure and nerve problems that could have been present at birth or could have developed later.
The second type of hearing loss is called conductive, caused by some kind of blockage that muffles sound in the ear. Conductive hearing loss is usually temporary from ear infections or fluid in the ears and is most common in children.
Your hearing is linked with how well you perform at work, how much you enjoy the world around you and how connected you feel in your relationships. That’s why hearing loss is associated with depression and may even play a role in dementia. There’s more at stake than just your hearing, so getting it checked is vital.
If you suffer from hearing loss, a great place to begin is CareNow®. Our qualified physicians can discuss your symptoms, check your hearing and get you on the road to recovery in no time.
You can visit our website for a complete list of CareNow® locations near you. We also offer a convenient way for you to get the care you need thanks to our Web Check-In® feature. Wait from anywhere, not the waiting room!
Disclaimer: Patients' health can vary. Always consult with a medical professional before taking medication, making health-related decisions or deciding if medical advice is right for you.
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