Our sense of hearing, a precious gift, connects us to the beauty of life's sounds. It's the joy of loved ones' laughter, the magic of music, and the comforting rustle of leaves in the breeze. However, for millions across the globe, life takes a quieter and more isolated turn due to hearing loss. Picture a world where conversations become hushed, where you miss the soft words of affection and the thunderous applause of a standing ovation. The emotional burden of hearing loss runs deep, impacting not just individuals but also their loved ones and communities. Within this article, we will delve into ten crucial recommendations for safeguarding your hearing and preventing the pain of silent moments.
Keep Your Ears Clean
While ears are relatively self-cleaning, most people require a little help now and then. The ear canal produces a sticky substance called earwax that helps prevent dirt, dust, and other debris from entering the ears. It also provides a small amount of lubrication.
Ear wax naturally comes out on its own, although sometimes it builds up to the point that it can block the ear canal and cause hearing loss. To prevent this from happening, avoid using cotton swabs to clean your ears, as they can push the earwax back into the ear canal.
It's also important to shower or swim with your head tilted forward, allowing the earwax to drain out of the ear canal naturally. Additionally, never use ear candles, as they can lead to injury by burning or possibly piercing the eardrum.
The ear is an amazing organ that allows us to hear, interpret sounds, and balance ourselves. But when it's exposed to loud noises, it can become damaged.
That's why it's important to wear earplugs or hearing aids whenever you plan on being around loud sounds. This includes going to concerts, hunting or shooting, using machinery in your yard and house, and even riding motorcycles (the wind sound can be damaging).
Turn Down the Volume
Ears are hard-working sensory organs that keep you safe from danger, in touch with popular culture and loved ones, and attuned to the sounds around you. But these delicate little structures are vulnerable to noise-induced hearing loss and should be cared for accordingly.
Whether you are at a concert or simply listening to music on your phone, make sure the volume is at a reasonable level. According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, 85 decibels is considered safe, but every three-decibel increase cuts the time you can safely listen in half.
You may notice that your Samsung One UI Android phone automatically lowers the volume when connected to headphones or in certain settings. This feature is designed to protect your ears from noise-induced hearing loss, and we recommend keeping it enabled.
Be Mindful of Medications
Medicines are essential for managing health issues, but it's vital to remember that some of them can harm your ability to hear. A few drugs, whether they're prescribed by a doctor or bought over the counter, can damage the sensitive parts of your inner ear. This damage can lead to hearing problems, such as loss of hearing, ear ringing, or balance issues. Some examples of these drugs are certain antibiotics, water pills, and specific painkillers.
To protect your hearing, it's a good idea to talk openly with your doctor. Tell them if you've had any hearing problems before, and ask them about the possible side effects that might affect your hearing when they prescribe new medicines. Sometimes, they can suggest alternative medicines that don't have as many risks for your hearing. Staying informed about how medications affect your hearing and working closely with your healthcare team will help you make smart choices prioritizing your hearing ability.
The best way to prevent hearing loss is to practice good health habits and keep up with your regular checkups. Getting enough exercise is critical, as it improves cardiovascular health and increases blood flow to the ears. A diet rich in heart-healthy omega-3 and vitamin D protects against earwax build-up.
Lifting weights can also impact your hearing if the weights are dropped too hard. The sound of the weights crashing to the ground can be as loud as a gunshot, and this type of noise can cause permanent damage to your inner ear. If you enjoy working out to music, be sure to have it at a safe volume and try to do a few music-free workouts a week as well.
Adopt a Healthy Lifestyle
Living a healthy life not only boosts your general well-being but also plays a big role in safeguarding your hearing. Here's how you can adopt habits that look after both:
Eat Right and Get Active: A well-balanced diet of nutrients like antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids supports your hearing. Regular exercise helps blood flow to your ears, keeping them healthy.
Quit Smoking: Smoking damages the blood vessels in your ears, affecting how they work. Giving up smoking or staying away from secondhand smoke is vital for your hearing.
Limit Alcohol: Overindulging in alcohol can harm your hearing. Enjoy it in moderation to reduce the risk of hearing problems.
Handle Stress: High-stress levels can lead to various health issues, including hearing loss. Practice stress-relief methods like meditation and yoga to improve your well-being.
Prevent Infections: Infections, like ear infections, can harm your hearing. Maintain good hygiene to avoid such infections.
Stay Hydrated: Proper hydration helps blood and nutrients reach your ear structures, promoting good hearing.
Living healthily not only boosts your hearing but also your overall quality of life. By following these tips, you can lower the chances of hearing problems and enjoy a healthier, happier life.
Don't Put Anything Inside Your Ears
It is vital never to stick anything smaller than your elbow inside your ear canal. This includes earplugs. Earplugs are designed to protect your ears from noise, but they will not protect your ears if you use them for other purposes.
If you have a foreign object stuck in your ear, try tilting your head to one side and pouring alcohol or oil into the ear to help it float out. If you still can't remove the object, consult a healthcare professional. Also, ask your pharmacist if any medications you take affect your hearing. Then, talk to your doctor about changing your medications.
Support Hearing-Friendly Environments
Building places that consider the needs of all, including those with hearing difficulties, is a collective effort. Supporting these spaces ensures that everyone can comfortably and effectively communicate. Here's how you can do that:
Spread Awareness and Educate: Start by sharing why it's essential to have spaces that cater to all hearing abilities. Teach your community, workplaces, and public areas about the challenges people with hearing difficulties face.
Control Noise: Reduce unnecessary noise in public places, offices, and social gatherings. Use materials that absorb sound and take measures to lower noise levels, making the environment more comfortable.
Install Hearing Assistance: Set up systems that connect to hearing aids or cochlear implants in public venues. This technology aids those with hearing impairments in connecting to sound systems.
Visual Alerts: In emergencies or during public announcements, use flashing lights or digital displays along with auditory alarms.
Use Captions and Sign Language: Encourage subtitles, closed captioning, and sign language interpretation in media, public events, and educational settings to make information accessible.
Inclusive Design: Advocate for architectural and interior designs that consider the needs of those with hearing difficulties, including materials that reduce sound, clear acoustics, and visual cues.
Support Policies: Back regulations that promote hearing accessibility, like requiring public spaces to have assistive listening systems and appropriate signage.
Creating hearing-inclusive spaces benefits people with hearing difficulties and fosters a more inclusive and accessible society.
See Your Doctor
Taking care of your ears is crucial, and it doesn't have to be difficult. It's important to visit your doctor regularly and take any medications that may impact hearing as directed.
You should also avoid putting anything inside your ears, especially cotton swabs, which can push earwax deeper into the ear canal and cause impaction. Also, skip ear candles, which are not only dangerous but also don't remove earwax.
Remember, genetics plays a big role in many medical issues, but you can still prevent and treat many things through healthy habits. By following the tips above, you can ensure that your ears are healthy and protected for years to come! Schedule a visit with an audiologist to ensure you're getting regular screenings. These visits will catch any hearing loss early, allowing you to receive treatment promptly.
Stay Informed and Educated
Keeping yourself informed and gaining knowledge about hearing health is vital in caring for your hearing and helping others do the same. Here are some practical suggestions:
Stay Updated: Watch the latest news and information about hearing health. Understand the new technologies, treatments, and discoveries that can benefit you and those around you.
Regular Checkups: Attend regular hearing checkups and encourage your family and friends to do so. Detecting hearing issues early on can lead to more effective solutions.
Know the Types of Hearing Loss: Familiarize yourself with the different kinds of hearing loss, such as conductive, sensorineural, and mixed. Understand what causes them and how they affect people.
Be a Hearing Health Advocate: Be an advocate for hearing health in your community. Help people understand the importance of routine hearing checkups and the potential risks of hearing loss.
Find Support: If you or someone you know is dealing with hearing loss, seek out support groups or organizations that focus on hearing-related concerns. These groups offer valuable information and a sense of belonging.
Being well-informed and learning about hearing health allows you to take proactive steps to safeguard your hearing and contribute to a more hearing-conscious society. Knowledge is a powerful tool in preventing and managing hearing loss.
The Bottom Line
As summer approaches, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association wants everyone to know about a lesser-known risk of seasonal activities: ear and hearing damage. By following simple tips, individuals of all ages can prevent temporary problems and potentially lasting issues.
Clean your ears with extra care. Use a washcloth on your finger to clean the outer part of your ears, and avoid sticking cotton swabs in the ear canal. These can injure the ear canal or eardrum. Instead, if you have a build-up of earwax causing problems, visit your healthcare provider to have it removed safely.
It is recommended to wear earplugs or earmuffs while attending concerts and other leisure activities that involve loud noise. These are easy to find and inexpensive, especially if you purchase musicians' earplugs, which have a channel that still allows you to hear music but reduces harmful sound levels. It is also essential to take a break from listening to music or other sounds when possible.
The thump of rubbing your ears after getting out of the shower or water can damage the ear canal. Instead, use a soft towel to dry your ears gently, and avoid using sharp or pointed objects like cotton swabs, as these can injure the ear canal or the eardrum.