One in every three people 65 years or older suffers from a degree of hearing loss, according to Hearing Loss Association of America. It could be that they took precautions early in life to save their hearing but was it enough?
Hearing deficients related to aging amount to the break down of many delicate hair cells in the cochlea, the inner ear, that move when sound hits them. Loud sounds play a big part in that process, however. It’s the little things you do now that can save those tiny hairs, reducing the danger of hearing loss as a person ages. There is no guarantee that you won’t be that one in three who experiences some hearing loss, but the odds are in your favor if you take steps to protect your ears now. Consider three simple things you can do to lower your risk of hearing loss.
1. Do a Home Noise Evaluation
Evaluating your home environment is a good place to start. Try to figure out what things there might expose your ears to uncomfortable noise levels. For example, what is the normal TV volume in your home? How about your tunes? Do you use headphones to listen to them?
Now is a good time to lose the headphones. Sound travels in waves. Headphones and ear buds introduce those waves directly into the ear canal. It’s a little like the difference shooting a gun from point blank range instead of from 100 feet away. By putting headphones on, you are exposing your ears to sound waves that are much stronger than they should be and damage the intricate components of your ears in the process.
Consider what other things you might do around the house that can introduce loud noise into your life. Perhaps you have a woodworking shop or some other craft that requires you to use loud equipment? Even things like mowing the lawn will take a toll. You don’t have to stop doing the things you love, just make sure you have the proper ear protection on hand when you do them like noise dampening ear muffs.
2. Exercise Regularly
Exercise is one of the best things you can do for your body – including your ears. Regular fitness schedule lowers your risk of chronic illnesses like diabetes or hypertension. These illnesses can affect your hearing as you get older. The truth is any kind of exercise will do, so go out and pick something you really enjoy like swimming or biking. Keep track of your activity, too, and ensure you meet the recommended standards offered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For adults, that means about 150 minutes a week of moderate to intense aerobic activity along with strength training at least two days a week.
3. Get Regular Ear Checkups
Like most health problems, the earlier you detect hearing loss, the better. A regular ear check-up will spot problem areas and allow you to see an ear specialist if necessary. For most people, it will also mean the occasional professional hearing test. Get the first one as early in life as possible. This can serve as a baseline as you grow older. When you get additional tests every few years, you will start to see how your hearing is changing. If you notice a drop, medical intervention might be able to slow or even stop the hearing loss progression.
A trip to the doctor each year for an ear exam helps you manage your hearing and control loss. The doctor can eliminate earwax blockage safely, for example. A physician will also know what types of drugs put your hearing at risk, preventing medication-related damage.
There is no perfect way to make sure you don’t have hearing loss later in life, but a little forward-thinking will certainly improve your odds of enjoying your golden years with the best hearing possible.