A certain degree of hearing loss can be a normal part of the aging process. However, people who take steps to protect their hearing long before Father Time takes his toll can prevent the extreme hearing loss suffered by millions of seniors across the globe.
Johns Hopkins Medicine states that approximately 15% of adults aged 18 years and older report some difficulty hearing and up to 39% of adults in their 60s have hearing problems.
Lost hearing cannot be restored, though hearing aids and other devices can help people with hearing loss hear better. Hearing aids are not always an accessory people look forward to needing, so it’s good to know that a few simple strategies can protect people’s hearing over the long haul.
1. Get a baseline hearing exam. Speak with an audiologist who can test your hearing and establish a baseline level against which future tests will be measured. This way it is easier to see if hearing loss is increasing over time.
2. Turn down the volume. Audio devices can contribute to hearing loss. Earbuds are particularly dangerous because they fit directly next to the eardrum. The World Health Organization says that 1.1 billion teens and young adults worldwide are at risk for noise-induced hearing loss from unsafe use of audio devices. Set the maximum volume on audio devices below 60% and wear headphones for no more than an hour a day. Keeping music low on other devices is also adviseable.
3. Wear protective gear. Protective gear includes ear plugs and protective earphones. This gear should be worn whenever you expect to encounter loud noises, such as when you mow the lawn, go hunting or shooting, attend rock concerts, or visit construction sites.
4. Limit use of cotton swabs. Ear wax is beneficial to the ears and can stop dust and other particles from entering the ear. Furthermore, using a cotton swab can potentially cause damage to sensitive organs in the ear if they are inserted too far or too roughly, advises the hearing testing service Ear-Q.
5. Avoid loud noises. Steer clear of fireworks, noisy city centers, loud performances, and other situations if you do not have hearing protection.
Remember, hearing loss often doesn’t produce immediate symptoms or pain. However, over time, hearing loss can become noticeable.
A proactive approach can help people avoid significant hearing loss as they age.