Many changes that occur as we age may not be preventable, and your body will go through changes as you get older. However, seniors and their loved ones have come to expect that hearing loss is a normal part of aging. It is true that gradual hearing loss is not uncommon past the age of 65, but the actions we take while we are younger can keep our hearing sharper in our older age. While studies show that one third of people in the U.S. between the age of 65 and 75 have some hearing loss, only about 40% of the 20 million Americans who suffer from hearing loss are 65 or older.
How our Hearing Works
When sound waves reach the structures of the inner ear, they cause vibrations at the eardrum before traveling through the cochlea. Attached to nerve cells within the cochlea are thousands of tiny hairs that help translate these vibrations into electrical signals that are transmitted to the brain.
The medical term for the gradual hearing loss that comes with age is presbycusis. It’s caused by the death of these tiny hair cells that act as sound receptors, and also from free radical damage that can clog up the ear’s tissues that act as sound amplifiers. Another reason hearing loss occurs is a build-up of wax in the inner ear. Earwax can block the ear canal and prevent conduction of sound waves. This type of hearing loss can usually be restored with earwax removal.
Because hearing loss can start at any age, prevention measures should begin early. Below are some tips that can protect your ears and ensure your hearing is crisp into your golden years. These practices should become a lifelong habit.
Avoid Harmful Noises
Due to environmental factors, people of all ages are now experiencing hearing loss at younger ages and faster rates. Reduce the noise in your life by turning down the volume on the stereo, TV, car radio, and especially when using personal listening devices with headphones or ear buds. If you use headphones to listen to music, don’t turn the volume up past 50%, and never exceed 80% even for a short time.
Activities and equipment that are the most dangerous for our ears include snowmobiling, jet skiing, hunting, and operating lawn mowers, leaf blowers, and power tools. Always wear ear protection when involved in these activities and sports, and especially in workplaces where prolonged exposure to loud noises is common. Pre-formed or custom-molded earplugs made of plastic or rubber are the most effective earplugs to prevent hearing loss.
Be Gentle on your Ears
Avoid sticking a cotton swab, or other objects in your ear to remove earwax. Do not scratch your ear if at all possible. If earwax is causing you problems with hearing, speak to your doctor about the best way to remove it. Your inner ear is way too fragile to survive a Q-tip attack, so let the professionals remove your ear wax.
Always blow your nose gently and use both nostrils. During air travel, swallow and yawn frequently when the plane is landing. If you have a cold, flu, a sinus infection, or other upper respiratory illness, take a decongestant a few hours before your plane lands, or use a nasal spray right before landing.
Keep medical conditions under control
Conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, atherosclerosis and other circulatory illnesses that are not treated properly can lead to hearing loss. The inner parts of the ear are sensitive and delicate, so any circulation problems you have can affect your hearing. Trouble hearing is also more likely to occur in people who smoke.
Some medications, although not many, can affect your hearing. For example, temporary effects on your hearing can occur if you take large doses of aspirin, and you can experience hearing loss from taking aspirin every day for a few weeks at a time. Certain diuretics can also affect hearing. Since hearing loss is partially genetic, let your doctor know if anyone in your family has trouble hearing.
Visit Gulf Gate Hearing Aid Center
After noise-related damage to the ear happens, it cannot be reversed. All we can do is take preventative measures to ensure that further damage does not occur. If you suspect that you or a loved one is experiencing hearing loss, get your hearing checked at Gulf Gate Hearing Aid Center and do the right thing for your hearing health.