Since October is National Protect Your Hearing Month, we wanted to take this opportunity to share ways to keep your hearing loss from getting worse.
If you’ve experienced hearing loss, you’ve made a great first step by seeking to educate yourself. We encourage you not to wait before taking the next step, which is receiving help from an audiologist. In our practice, we frequently find out people have waited a long time between the start of their hearing trouble and their first visit with us. There’s no need to wait. Our caring team is available to help you protect your hearing.
Try to Avoid Loud Noises
Most of us know we should stay away from deafening noises whenever possible. A lesser-known danger to your hearing is consistent or prolonged exposure to moderately loud noises. These are noises from items many people encounter in daily life, such as motorcycles, industrial machinery, chainsaws, pneumatic drills, leaf blowers, and lawnmowers. Also, using headphones and earbuds at a loud volume can be harmful.
Sometimes, it’s challenging to know when an environment is loud enough to damage your hearing. If you have to speak louder for people to hear you or you can’t hear someone who’s within three feet, the environment is too loud.
Wear Hearing Protection
When loud noises can’t be avoided, protecting your ears with earplugs or earmuffs is essential. To be effective, earmuffs must fit tightly and cover your ears completely. Wearing earmuffs and earplugs together offers greater protection. At work, employers are expected to provide and pay for hearing protection as personal protective equipment (PPE) required by OSHA regulations.
Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle
Your overall health has an impact on your hearing health. Healthy lifestyle choices like reducing stress and getting enough sleep play a role in maintaining optimal health. Three areas of your lifestyle can have a greater influence on your hearing.
Smoking. Research has found a strong link between smoking and a greater risk of hearing loss. A recent study concluded a person’s risk for hearing loss increases with the number of cigarettes smoked in a day. The good news is that the risk of hearing loss goes down after a person quits smoking. Nonsmokers should avoid exposure to secondhand smoke.
Nutrition. Healthy eating habits have been linked to a lower risk of hearing loss. A healthy diet is rich in whole-grains, fruits, vegetables, poultry, fish, nuts, and legumes.
Exercise. A sedentary lifestyle is associated with a higher risk of hearing loss. Physical activity like aerobic exercise and stretching has been shown to promote hearing health. Consulting your primary care physician is recommended before starting a new exercise routine.
Know Your Family Health History
Your family’s health history can provide valuable information for your overall health and your hearing health. You need to be aware of hearing issues and any chronic health problems that tend to run in families, like hypertension.
The knowledge that a chronic health issue runs in your family can be empowering. You may be able to prevent some ailments. Other problems can be caught early when they’re easiest to treat. For example, people with diabetes experience hearing loss at twice the rate of the rest of the population. If you have a strong family history of diabetes, your primary care physician can advise you on what steps to take to reduce your risk.
Learn the Signs of Hearing Loss
Knowing the signs of hearing loss can prevent a problem from becoming worse. If you’re experiencing any of these signs, it’s time for an appointment with a hearing specialist.
- Difficulty hearing high-frequency sounds like the doorbell or an alarm clock
- Sounds seem muffled
- You’re always asking others to repeat what they said
- It’s hard to hear on the phone
- You hear ringing in one or both ears
Trust Your Loved Ones
Often, our family and friends realize our hearing is getting worse before we do. They may have noticed they have to speak louder for you to hear them or that you’re turning the television volume up higher than usual. They may complain that you’re always asking them to repeat themselves. If your loved ones are suggesting you should visit a hearing clinic, taking their advice is wise.
Schedule Annual Hearing Tests
Your first hearing test establishes a benchmark. It gives your audiologist something to compare subsequent tests to. Getting regular hearing exams provides a way to detect an issue early.
Keep Your Ears Warm
Your hearing can get worse from spending a lot of time outdoors in cold weather. Usually, hearing loss from exposure to cold temperatures is seen in people who work outdoors during winter or spend extended time participating in winter sports like skiing and snowboarding. Although your risk of cold weather-related hearing loss is low, it’s still worthwhile to cover your ears with a hat or earmuffs on frosty days.
Protect Your Head
Hearing loss is one of the possible consequences of a head injury. Wearing a helmet when playing contact sports is a must. Workers whose jobs put them at a higher risk of a head injury may want to invest in a hard hat even if regulations don’t require you to wear one.
If you’ve experienced hearing loss and you haven’t been evaluated by a hearing specialist, contact us today at North Houston Hearing Solutions to schedule an appointment.
Dr. Lacey Brooks received a bachelor’s degree in biology and chemistry in 2003, and earned her doctorate of audiology in 2009. She completed her clinical internships and residency at various facilities within Houston Medical Center. Dr. Brooks is a professional member of the American Tinnitus Association (ATA), a fellow of the American Academy of Audiology (AAA), a member of the Texas Academy of Audiology (TAA), and is certified by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). She is also the vice president of the Louisiana State University Houston Chapter Alumni Association.