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11 important tips to protect your hearing health

written by Vidya Sury February 3, 2021
11 important tips to protect your hearing health

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Our hearing is relatively fragile, and it’s easy to ignore or overlook that fact when everything is going well and we’re not facing any problems with our hearing. But if and when something goes wrong, we immediately notice just how much we take our hearing health. Isn’t it better to avoid these situations and protect our hearing?

Here are 11 tips to protect your hearing health

1. Avoid Putting Anything in Your Ears

This may seem rather obvious but it is a serious tip. Even cotton buds are not safe to clean out your ears if you’re poking around in there. We tend to use cotton swabs to clean the wax out of the ear canal. But this is not safe as there is always a risk of injury. Also, a little bit of wax in the ears is absolutely normal and in fact, important. Your ear is a self-cleaning organ and the wax stops dust and other harmful particles from entering the canal. Inserting anything into your ears can damage your sensitive ear drum.

If you have to clean your ear, use a damp towel to clean around the canal gently. Your doctor may suggest a ear was removal solution to be used over the course of a few nights. This makes the wax soft and flow out on its own.

To avoid any risk of injury, leave the task of cleaning out your ears to a medical professional who can use safe tools and methods to get the job done and protect your hearing health.

2. Take Care When Listening to Music

The WHO estimates that 1.1 billion teenagers and young adults worldwide are at risk for noise-induced hearing loss from using unsafe audio devices.

When you’re listening to music, take care not to blast that music at max volume. It’s something that we all do from time to time, especially when using headphones. But if you want to make sure that you protect your hearing, remember to keep the volume at a reasonable level. Protect your ears by following the 60/60 rule, which means using your headphones at no more than 60% volume for not more than 60 minutes a day.

Earbuds can be particularly harmful as they fit inside your ears. Try and opt for over the ear headphones. Loud music, and not just the music via headphones is a risk for noise-induced hearing loss. If you happen to be the host at a social event, keep the music at a volume that won’t force people to shout above the noise to have a conversation.

3. Get Regular Hearing Tests

If it’s been a while since you last attended a hearing test and you want to make sure that changes as soon as possible. With a pure tone hearing test, you can get a much better idea of the status of your hearing health and whether any interventions are necessary. And getting these tests regularly will allow you to track changes in your hearing quality over time.

Ask your primary care physician to incorporate hearing screenings into your regular checkups. Because hearing loss develops gradually, it’s also recommended that you have annual hearing consultations with a hearing healthcare professional. That way, you’ll be more likely to recognize signs of hearing loss and take timely action.

4. Be Aware of Loud Noises in Your Environment

When there’s a loud noise in your immediate vicinity, your hearing could be at risk. And the risk level you’re exposed to will be even greater if you’re exposed to those loud noises and potentially damaging sounds on a regular basis, take action to prevent that and protect your hearing health.

5. Use earplugs around loud noises

Approximately 15% of Americans have noise-induced hearing loss because of loud work or leisure environments.

Clubs, concerts, lawnmowers, chainsaws, and any other noise sources that force you to shout to be heard can create dangerous levels of sound. Earplugs are convenient and easy to get. You can even have a pair custom-fitted for your ears by your local hearing healthcare provider.

Musicians’ earplugs are custom earplugs with filters that allow a person to hear conversations and music but still reduce harmful sound levels while maintaining the quality of the original sound as closely as possible.

11 important tips to protect your hearing health

6. Give your ears time to recover

If you are exposed to loud noises for a prolonged period of time, like at a concert or a bar, your ears need time to recover. Whenever possible, step outside for five minutes every so often in order to let them rest.

What’s more, researchers have found that your ears need an average of 16 hours of quiet to recover from one loud night out.

7. Invest in the Best Hearing Protection

If you are being exposed to loud noise, for the sake of your health and hearing, start using the right hearing protection. That way, any loud noises you’re exposed to will end up having less of an impact on your hearing moving forward, and conditions such as tinnitus will be less likely to develop as a result.

8. Take medications only as directed

Did you know that certain medications can contribute to hearing loss? These include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) like aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen. Talk to your doctor about your medications if you’re worried that they’ll impact your hearing ability. Take medications exactly as directed.

9. Keep your ears dry

Too much moisture can invite bacteria into your ear and infect the ear canal. This can cause swimmer’s ear or other types of ear infections that are dangerous for your hearing ability. Take care to towel-dry your ears gently after you bathe or swim. If you feel there is water in the ear, tilt your head slowly and pull your ear lobe lightly to let the water flow out.

You can use customized swimmers’ earplugs to prevent water from entering the ear canal and keep your ears dry. These are available for both adults and kids and help prevent swimmer’s ear. Talk to your local hearing health professional for options and protect your hearing health.

10. Be physically active

Did you know that exercise is good for your ears? Particularly cardio exercises like walking, running, or cycling gets your blood pumping to all parts of your body, including the ears. This keeps your ears’ internal parts healthy and functioning the way they should. Take care to wear a helmet while cycling. If there is an accident and you fall, a concussion could harm your hearing health.

11. Manage stress levels

Stress and anxiety have been linked to both temporary and permanent tinnitus (a phantom ringing in the ears). High levels of stress send your body into fight or flight mode, an instinctive reaction that sends the adrenalin pumping through your body, which in turn helps you fight or flee from danger. This process puts a lot of pressure on your nerves, blood flow, body heat, and more. The pressure and stress thus caused can travel up into your inner ear and contribute to tinnitus symptoms. So, take care to manage your stress to protect your hearing health

The moment you notice something unusual with your hearing, take action by consulting your doctor to prevent hearing loss. Don’t wait until it is too late. Untreated hearing loss can interfere with the quality of your life and also affect the your relationships, besides being linked to other health conditions such as depression, dementia and heart disease. Protect your hearing health with the tips outlined above.

Stay healthy!

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