Most people are not aware that the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) considers hearing loss to be the third most common chronic health problem in the United States. However, I like to look beyond the statistics to consider how it affects the lives of those struggling with hearing loss and their families. It is a passion of mine to ensure that my clients enjoy rewarding lifestyles with the greatest amount of independence possible. As a part of my commitment to better hearing health, I have included some helpful advice to help prevent your hearing loss from getting worse.
Avoiding noise can be difficult in some instances, but a committed effort to stay away from loud environments is one of the best ways to prevent additional hearing loss damage. Rock concerts, sirens, and firecrackers are obvious noises to avoid, yet they are not as damaging as prolonged exposure to moderate noise level environments such as factory machinery, power tools, gas-powered lawn mowers, and turning up the volume on headphones or earbuds. Not many of us carry sound meters with us, so how do we judge damaging noise levels? Basically, if you have to increase the volume of your voice to speak to someone just beyond the reach of your fingertips, the noise level has damaging potential.
Protecting Your Head and Ears
In the circumstance where avoiding noise exposure is not an option, the use of adequate hearing protection throughout the duration of exposure to the loud sounds is the best way to prevent additional damage. Keep in mind that skull fractures and other forms of head trauma injuries have the potential to produce or exacerbate hearing loss. Hearing loss prevention can include wearing certified head protection where there is a risk of a head injury. Employers and state and federal organizations must provide both ear protection for jobs considered hazardous to hearing and/or proper head protection during work or other high risk activities according to OSHA regulations.
Better Overall Health Consciousness
A variety of health conditions also contribute to hearing loss. Conscious efforts to prevent making your condition worse include lifestyle choices such as getting enough sleep, reducing stress, staying physically active, and eliminating smoking. High blood pressure and various other chronic illnesses can also exacerbate hearing loss. Certain medications also produce potential risks. A number of OTC and prescription medications are ototoxic, which means that they cause damage to the auditory nervous system. Advise your physician of your hearing loss condition, so that he or she can avoid prescribing medications that contribute to increased hearing loss.
Recognizing the Signs of Hearing Loss
A major part of the worsening of hearing loss comes from failure to detect it and treat it early on. Recognizing the signs of hearing loss as an individual or recognizing it in a loved one is critical to getting needed help. Some signs that might indicate hearing loss include:
- Struggling with Phone Conversations
- Difficulty hearing in a Noisy Environment
- Reduced capacity to Hear High-Frequency Sounds (birds, doorbell, voices of women or children)
- Hissing, buzzing or Ringing in One or Both Ears (tinnitus)
- Increasing the Volume on the Television or Other Electronic Devices
- Asking people to Repeat Themselves with Greater Frequency
To maintain hearing health, early detection of hearing loss and preventing it from getting worse are the benefits of annual hearing tests.
Make the Most of Prescribed Solutions
A decreased quality of life and a reduced amount of independence are consequences of hearing loss. Following prescribed treatments or wearing your hearing aids help reduce or eliminate these consequences. In addition, these treatments prevent hearing loss from becoming worse as well as heading off other cognitive and mental health issues.
Advanced hearing loss can produce a significant negative impact on your overall health. My advice to my clients and their loved ones is to make a conscientious effort to doing what is necessary to prevent hearing loss from getting worse by following these guidelines. Frequent checkups from Sound Audiology and Hearing Aids are a major part of what I recommend as a part of better hearing health care.