Unfortunately, science hasn’t yet found a way to restore your natural hearing after it’s been damaged over a lifetime. For this reason, it’s highly important to take steps to protect it. This can come in many different forms, however; just like the number of ways that your hearing can become damaged. Here are some effective ways to protect your hearing from damage over the course of a lifetime.
About 15% of Americans have hearing loss that is noise-induced, usually as the result of loud environments at work or during leisure. Although it’s most common to experience harmful noise levels at events like concerts or while using heavy equipment, many different environments can reach troublesome levels. As a general rule of thumb, any environment where you feel you need to shout to be heard in a conversation can be dangerous to your hearing. It’s important to use earplugs that are comfortable and effective, and even consider custom-fitted ones if you’re regularly exposed to these environments.
Keep the Volume Low
Most people love listening to music using personal headphones but, according to the World Health Organization, 1.1 billion teenagers and young adults are at a risk for hearing loss that is noise-induced. It’s estimated that, by the year 2050, over 900 million people will have hearing loss that is disabling. It’s recommended to use the 60/60 rule when listening to music, which implies that you keep the volume of your headphones at 60 percent and use them for no more than 60 minutes in a day. Audiologists also recommend that you use over-the-ear headphones rather than earbuds, which are fitted closer to your ear drum and pose a higher risk to your hearing.
Let Your Hearing Recover
If you’re being exposed or have been exposed to loud, damaging environments, it’s recommended that you give your hearing time to rest during both during and after. Stepping out of the noisy environment for five to ten minutes can give your hearing a rest and reduce strain on the mechanisms. In fact, some research points to needing upwards of sixteen hours of quiet time after loud exposure to allow your hearing to recover.
Use Cotton Swabs Responsibly
You’ve most likely used cotton swabs to clean out your ears, but this can be damaging when used improperly. It’s important that your ears have a little bit of wax, since your ears are self-cleaning organs that use wax to stop harmful particles from entering the canal. When you insert cotton swabs too deeply, you could damage the sensitive parts like the ear drum. This can also compact the ear wax and lead to pain and discomfort. Any excess wax should be cleaned using a wax removal solution or through professional help.
Keep Your Ears Dry
Any excessive moisture in your ears can be a breeding ground for bacteria that can cause infections. These infections, if left untreated, can be extremely painful and even cause damage to the ear’s inner mechanisms. Avoid swimmer’s ear by gently drying your ears with a clean towel and using antibacterial drops if needed. It’s important to avoid removing the waxy coating inside the ear that keeps them water-proof. Also, be careful when inserting objects into the ear like headphones or cotton swabs, since cuts or scrapes can allow infections to occur.
Schedule a Consultation
The most important step you can take in preserving your hearing is having regular screenings with your audiologist or ENT specialist who can assess the early signs of hearing loss and recommend treatments. To schedule an appointment, contact our Tuscaloosa office by calling or filling out our online form.