According to the World Health Organization, over 1.5 billion people live with hearing loss. This specialized United Nations agency also expects this figure to rise to 2.5 billion by 2030.
The effects of hearing loss can be profound, with many people experiencing social isolation and losing the ability to communicate with friends, family, and their community.
While you might not be able to prevent hearing loss, especially the age-related hearing impairment, presbycusis, that doesn’t mean you don’t have the power to take care of your ears and hearing health.
Take some of the following actions, and you might be able to reduce the risk of hearing loss in the future.
Use Ear Protection Around Loud Noises
If you have family members with hearing loss, you might be well aware of how challenging they can find dining out with hearing aids. They might also struggle with communication in general, and you might notice how frustrating it can be for them.
If you were to take preventative measures like using ear protection around loud noises, you might be able to prevent noise-related hearing loss in the future.
Fortunately, a number of products exist to protect your ears in various noisy environments. For example, concert-goers can purchase musicians’ earplugs, which are designed to lower the sound of the music and conversations to a safe level while still maintaining audio quality.
If you’re working with outdoor power equipment like lawnmowers and chainsaws, you can wear a pair of specially designed earmuffs to muffle the intense sounds and protect your ears.
You can even purchase custom-fitted earplugs, which are manufactured to fit comfortably in your ears when you struggle to enjoy a perfect fit with off-the-shelf products.
Noise-induced hearing loss is prevalent worldwide, and simple products like earplugs might make more difference than you think.
Give Your Ears a Break
Most of us will find ourselves in loud environments from time to time. You might attend a loud festival, enter a packed restaurant or bar, or be in a crowd of rowdy fans at a concert.
You might not always be able to protect your hearing at all times during these events, but you can give your ears much-needed recovery time.
Take a break from the noise multiple times during your day out for at least five minutes at a time. You might also choose to give yourself a day’s break from loud noises after being in a busy environment the day before.
Play Music At a Safe Level
As tempting as it can be to blast your favorite songs at full volume, it might be putting you at risk of hearing loss in the future.
Most sounds at or under 70 decibels are typically considered safe, but any sound above 85 decibels might be more likely to cause hearing loss over time.
If you’re exposed to noise levels higher than 85 decibels for extended periods, you’re more at risk of hearing loss than people who aren’t.
If you still wish to listen to loud music, there are things you can do to potentially reduce your risk of hearing loss. For example, you can follow the 60/60 rule, which involves playing music through your headphones at 60% volume or lower for no more than 60 minutes per day.
You might also do your ears less damage by using over-the-ear headphones rather than earbuds that fit next to your eardrums.
Don’t Use Cotton Swabs
When you see cotton swabs displayed for sale in your local store, you might see them advertised as being ideal for applying first aid creams and ointments and for use with baby care, cosmetics, and hygiene.
Typically, nowhere on the packaging does it mention their suitability for ear cleaning. In fact, some brands specifically say that you shouldn’t put them in your ears.
Cotton swabs aren’t safe for this purpose. While you might wish to clean wax out of your ear canals, cotton swabs can damage sensitive organs, such as the eardrum.
Moreover, our ears are self-cleaning, and the internal wax is essential for preventing dust and harmful particles from entering the ear canal.
If you believe earwax is causing irritation, make an appointment with your audiologist. They can suggest safer ear-cleaning methods that might not be as invasive and don’t present the same risks.
Get Regular Hearing Screening
Hearing loss develops slowly over time, and people experiencing it might not always realize their hearing has changed as the years have passed. As a result, regular hearing screening can be crucial.
Not only do you have a baseline to work from, but audiologists and other medical professionals can identify hearing changes and potentially even diagnose underlying medical conditions.
Routine hearing tests can also pick up balance disorders, tinnitus, and degeneration of the auditory system. The more proactive you are with your hearing health, the easier it might be to identify and address hearing problems before they start to significantly impact your way of life.
Keep Your Ears Dry
You might think that loud noises are the only thing contributing to hearing loss, but moisture in your ears can sometimes be a factor.
When your ears contain excess moisture, such as after a bath or a swim for fitness or leisure, bacteria can enter your ears and start attacking the ear canals.
You might then end up with ear infections, such as swimmer’s ear, that might cause temporary or permanent hearing impairment.
Always gently towel-dry your ears after getting out of a body of water, such as a bath, pool, lake, or river. You might even like to invest in special ear plugs for swimming.
If you feel water inside your ears that you can’t safely access, tilt your head downward and gently tug on your earlobe to help guide the water out.
Some hearing experts also suggest lying on your side, yawning, and taking a long, hot shower to let the steam do all the hard work.
You might know about the importance of taking care of your overall health, but not everyone knows how crucial it can be to look after their hearing health.
You might not be able to prevent hearing loss in the future, but any of these actions above might reduce the risk and help you identify it before it starts causing significant problems.
Lauren Gamble is an author, mompreneur, co-founder of Naturally Made Essentials. She is on a mission to help thousands of women across the world achieve a healthy, happy lifestyle through teaching natural health practices.