Each year in October, we observe National Protect Your Hearing Month, an optimal time to raise awareness about the importance of preventing noise-induced hearing loss.The ability to hear well is vital for a lot of good reasons. It may stave off adverse health conditions, such as depression, dementia and injury-causing falls. It’s also essential for effective communication.
How can you ensure that you or your loved ones can minimize the risk of hearing loss? Start by following and sharing these 10 tips:
Tip #1: Keep your distance from loud sounds
Excessive noise is a leading cause of hearing loss in people of all ages. Stay as far away as possible from sounds that exceed 85 decibels (dB), or limit the amount of time you spend in noise. Not sure how loud is too loud? Check out this resource for the best smartphone apps to measure noise levels.
Did you know that the noise at some football games has been recorded at levels equal to that of a jet plan taking off? Be sure to grab your hearing protection before heading to the big game.
Tip #2: Use hearing protection
A wide range of hearing protection products, from inexpensive foam earplugs to custom-made ear pieces for musicians, are available for the instances when you can’t avoid loud sounds.
Tip #3: Listen to music at a safe volume
When using earbuds or headphones, set the volume to no more than 60% of maximum. A rule of thumb: If the person sitting next to you can hear your music, it’s too loud.
Tip #4: Safely address earwax blockages
See your physician if a build-up of earwax causes hearing issues. Don’t try to remove wax yourself (e.g. using a cotton swab) — you may worsen the blockage or even puncture your eardrum.
Tip #5: Avoid ototoxic medications, if possible
More than 200 prescription and over-the-counter drugs can damage your hearing. Ask your health provider about a drug’s potential effects on your hearing and any non-ototoxic alternatives.
Tip #6: Maintain a healthy body weight
More body fat and larger waists may increase your risk for hearing loss, according to researchers. Walking as little as two hours per week can keep you lighter and hearing your best.
Tip #7: Take steps to prevent type 2 diabetes
Diabetes doubles the risk of hearing loss compared to people with normal blood sugar levels. Healthy eating and regular exercise may help prevent type 2 diabetes and protect your hearing.
Tip #8: Get treatment for sleep apnea
The link between sleep apnea and heart disease is well established. New research has concluded that sleep apnea also increases the risk of hearing loss. Get medical attention if you have sleep apnea.
Tip #9: Quit smoking
Smoking causes a host of health problems, including heart disease, stroke and lung cancer. And now this: Smokers are nearly 70% more likely than non-smokers to suffer hearing loss.
Tip #10: Eat foods that may protect hearing
Foods rich in potassium, folic acid, magnesium, zinc and omega 3s may protect your hearing. Be sure to check with your physician before adding supplements to your diet.
Two additional tips for peak hearing health
Get your hearing tested every one to three years, depending on your age and risk factors. While testing won’t prevent hearing loss, it may enable the hearing healthcare professional to provide treatment in the earlier stages of a hearing impairment.
Lastly, if hearing loss has occurred and it’s treatable, follow your hearing healthcare professional’s recommendations. Consistent use of hearing aids may help prevent further deterioration of your hearing.
If you suspect hearing loss, don’t wait to get help. Although hearing aids cannot prevent further hearing loss or restore natural hearing, early intervention may help you avoid social isolation, depression and other conditions that may be tied to a hearing impairment. Call Amplifon Hearing Health Care today to find a provider near you and to schedule a free hearing screening.