6 Ways to Lose Your Hearing

The strange part of hearing loss is that we don’t tend to begin appreciating our favorite sounds until after we’ve lost the ability to clearly hear them. We don’t stop to contemplate, for example, how much we enjoy a good conversation with a close friend until we have to constantly ask them to repeat themselves.

Whether it’s your favorite Mozart album or the songs of a Bluejay first thing in the morning, your quality of life is directly tied to your capability to hear—whether you recognize it or not. And if you wait until after you’ve lost your hearing to come to this understanding, you’re going to dedicate a tremendous amount of time and effort working to get it back.

So how can you sustain your ability to hear?

Here are 6 ways you could lose your hearing and what you can do about it.

1. Genetics and aging

Age-related hearing loss, also called presbycusis, is the loss of hearing that gradually occurs as we grow old. Along with presbycusis, there is also some evidence indicating that genetics plays a role, and that some of us are more vulnerable to hearing loss than others.

While there’s not much you can do to prevent the aging process or modify your genetics, you can protect against noise-induced hearing loss from the other causes shown below. And keep in mind that age-related hearing loss is considerably more challenging to treat if made worse by avoidable damage.

2. Traveling

Regular exposure to sound volumes above 85 decibels can cause permanent hearing loss, which is bad news if you happen to drive a convertible. New research reveals that driving a convertible with the top down at high speeds produces an average sound volume of 90 decibels. Motorcyclists face even higher sounds and those who ride the subway are at risk as well.

So does everyone either have to forego travel or live with permanent earplugs? Not exactly, but you should certainly find ways to reduce your collective noise exposure during travel. If you own a convertible, roll up your windows and drive a little slower; if you ride a motorcycle, put on a helmet and consider earplugs; and if you take the subway, give some thought to purchasing noise-canceling headphones.

3. Going to work

As reported by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), 22 million people in the US are exposed to potentially harmful noise levels on the job. The highest risk professions are in manufacturing, farming, construction, the military, and the music industry.

The last thing you want is to spend your entire working life amassing hearing loss that will keep you from enjoying your retirement. Talk to your employer about its hearing protection plan, and if they don’t have one, pay a visit to your local hearing specialist for custom solutions.

4. Taking drugs and smoking

Smoking interferes with blood flow, among other things, which could enhance your risk of developing hearing loss—if you really required another reason to quit. Antibiotics, potent pain medications, and a significant number of other drugs are “ototoxic,” or damaging to the cells of hearing. In fact, there are more than 200 known ototoxic medications.

The bottom line: avoid consuming ototoxic drugs or medications unless absolutely necessary. Consult with your doctor if you have any questions.

5. Listening to music

85 is turning out to be quite an inconvenient number. A large number of our favorite activities produce decibel levels just above this threshold, and any sound over 85 decibels can cause hearing loss. If the threshold were just a little higher, say 100 decibels, we wouldn’t have to worry about it so much.

But 85 it is. And portable music players at maximum volume reach more than 100 decibels while rock shows reach more than 110. The solution is simple: turn down your iPod, wear earplugs at live shows, and limit your time of exposure to the music.

6. Getting sick or injured

Some disorders, such as diabetes, along with any traumatic head injuries, places you at greater risk of developing hearing loss. If you have diabetes, frequent exercise, a balanced diet, and frequent monitoring of glucose levels is critical. And if you drive a motorcycle, wearing a helmet will help prevent traumatic head injuries.

Talk to Your Hearing Specialist

Although there are several ways to lose your hearing, a few straightforward lifestyle modifications can help you retain your hearing for life. Remember: the minimal hassle of wearing custom earplugs, driving with the windows up, or turning down your iPod are insignificant compared to the substantial inconvenience of hearing loss later in life.

Ready to take your hearing health seriously? Give us a call today.