With over 48 million Americans affected by hearing loss, it is vital to be vigilant in protecting our ears and preserving our hearing today so that our ears serve us well into tomorrow. As a practicing audiologist for over 33 years, I understand how hearing loss can make us feel disconnected from the world around us. By following these 10 easy tips, you can not only preserve the hearing you have but stop your hearing loss from worsening over time.
#1 – Reduce Exposure to Loud and Prolonged Sounds
Not only can loud noises damage your hearing, but moderately loud sounds that last for a prolonged amount of time can also be damaging as well. If you can’t avoid exposure to sounds emitted by lawnmowers, motorcycles, loud music, football games, and similar noise levels, be sure to wear suitable ear protection or turn down the volume.
We all love listening to music, but it is very important to remember to follow the 60/60 rule: keep the volume to 60% and don’t listen longer than 60 minutes at a time.
#2 – Wear Ear Protection When Necessary
When you can’t turn the volume down or avoid loud or prolonged moderately loud noises, wearing suitable ear protection is a must. Earplugs, earmolds, noise-canceling headphones, ear muffs, and wadding materials are all the different types of ear protection that you can purchase at just about any big box store, pharmacy, or online.
You can keep your ear protection in locations that are easily accessible when you are exposed to loud noises like hanging from the lawnmower handle, in the toolbox, or the glove box in your vehicle.
#3 – Protect Your Ears from Physical Damage
If you are involved in contact sports or professions where head trauma is a possibility, always protect your head and ears from physical damage. Many people also don’t realize that prolonged exposure to cold weather can also damage our ears. Wearing a hat that covers your ears or earmuffs can go a long way in protecting our hearing health.
#4 – Stay Physically Healthy
Our physical health can also affect our hearing health. Make good choices and live a healthy lifestyle: stop smoking, eat healthily, reduce stress, and exercise regularly. Making poor lifestyle decisions will not only negatively affect your hearing health, but lead to many other serious health problems.
#5 – Know Your Family History
Many hearing conditions can be passed down to you through genetics, so knowing your family history and share it with your audiologist. When we know what you may be predisposed to, we can tell you what symptoms to be aware of, if we need to run any special preliminary testing, or prepare you for preventative treatment. The earlier we can start testing and treatment for most conditions, the better the prognosis.
#6 – Know the Signs and Symptoms of Hearing Loss
Being able to recognize the symptoms and signs of hearing loss are key in minimizing the suffering that it can inflict. It can be very difficult to realize that you have lost your hearing because typically it degrades slowly over time.
Some of the symptoms of hearing loss include difficulty hearing higher-pitched sounds, problems hearing in noisy environments, constantly turning up the volume, and ear swapping when answering the phone. For more details on the signs of hearing loss, see: Common Signs Of A Hearing Loss To Look Out For. The most important thing is to schedule a quick and painless hearing exam if you believe you have any of these signs.
#7 – Listen to Your Loved Ones
Oftentimes, it can be hard to recognize the symptoms of hearing loss in ourselves, even when we know what to look for. You spend the most time with your loved ones and they will notice if you continually ask them to speak up or repeat themselves. This is when we need to listen to our friends and family if they start to hint that your hearing might have gone downhill.
Relationships can often become strained because of hearing loss, so if the people that you love most tell you that you need to be tested, it is time. A hearing test is quick, non-invasive, and painless.
#8 – Make a Hearing Exam Part of Your Regular Health Screenings
Preventive health screenings are an essential part of keeping our bodies in tip-top shape and go a very long way in detection and treatment of potentially life-threating conditions. Adding an annual hearing test to your annual screenings is a great way to ensure that your hearing health is in optimal condition as well.
Untreated hearing loss can have more serious consequences than you may think: anxiety, heart disease, and dementia. Having regular exams can go a long way in preventing further hearing loss and causing damage to other areas of your body as well.
#9 – Understand Your Hearing Test Results
Knowing what your hearing examination results mean to your hearing health is vital in preventing further hearing loss. We will walk you through your results one-on-one, but be sure to ask questions if you don’t understand, that is why we are here. Be sure to follow any advice that we give—your results and advice were tailored to help you hear better and preserve your hearing health.
#10 – Use Your Hearing Aid
If your hearing test results confirmed that a hearing aid would preserve and enhance your hearing, our hearing aid experts will go over all of the options that are best suited to your needs. We will show you how to wear them, use them, and care for them thoroughly before you leave, but be sure to ask questions, and don’t be shy to share your opinions—we want to know what you think!
When you get your new hearing aid, the most important step is to use it! The more you use it, the more comfortable it will become and the more it will benefit you. Eight out of 10 hearing aid users say that their life has been much improved after using their hearing aids – we want yours to be too.
If you are experiencing any signs of hearing loss and feel that it is time to schedule a hearing examination, contact us today. We are here to not only help you hear better but preserve your hearing and quality of life.
Debra Hamila received her master’s degree in audiology from Cleveland State University and her Au.D. from Arizona School of Health Sciences and has been a practicing audiologist for more than 33 years. She has worked in a variety of ENT offices, hospital and clinical settings.