There are many reasons someone may experience hearing loss. For some, it can be genetic. Others could face hearing loss as a result of health-related issues. Some are born with it. However, in many cases, hearing loss is preventable, with minor lifestyle changes. At Integrity Hearing Services, our mission is simple. “We are here to help people hear so they can fully participate in their lives and the lives of the people they love.” Our goal is to help educate on ways you can keep your hearing as healthy as possible so you can do just that!
Types of hearing loss.
There are three major types of hearing loss and a fourth one that is emerging. A conductive hearing loss is a hearing loss in the outer or middle ear. This may be something as simple as earwax or fluid behind the eardrum. Other causes could be a ruptured eardrum or abnormal bone growth in the middle ear. Often, this type of hearing loss can be corrected. A sensorineural hearing loss is a loss in the inner ear or beyond. This can be caused by damage to the hair cells in the inner ear from noise damage. It can also be caused by tumors, viral infections, medications, or medical conditions like diabetes. Sensorineural damage is largely uncorrectable and the only treatment options available are hearing aids or cochlear implants. Mixed hearing loss is, as the name implies, both a conductive and sensorineural hearing loss. There is another type of hearing loss that some will call auditory neuropathy which is problems dealing with the nerve up to the brain. This will leave someone with difficulty in speech understanding.
Some tips to prevent hearing loss are as follows:
● Don’t Use Q-tips:
Q-tips or cotton swabs can actually push earwax further into the ear causing blockage and damage sensitive skin and hairs in the ear canal. Typically, the natural movement of your jaw will push out excess wax all on its own. If you do have excessive wax build-up, an audiologist can remove it safely for you.
● Quit smoking (or even better don’t start):
The use of tobacco, among all the dangerous side-effects, has been proven to increase the chances of hearing loss. According to one study, “the current cigarette smokers were 1.69 times as likely to have hearing loss as the non-smokers.” But the good news is quitting can decrease the risk, no matter how long from the time of cessation.
● Turn down the sound:
Many people like to listen to music at levels that can be damaging. Enjoy the music, yes, but at a softer level. Loud noise exposure is a common, and completely preventable cause of hearing loss.
● When at concerts or other live shows:
o Stay away from the speakers: If you are able, position yourself as far away from the speakers as possible. It’s loud everywhere at concerts so you’ll still be able to hear no matter where you are in the room.
o Use musician’s earplugs (filtered): You can use filtered earplugs to eliminate noise levels without muffling the sound. You’ll still be able to hear the music, but a little bit safer.
● Use noise-canceling headphones
Most of the hearing risk in using headphones, is in the volume. By using noise-canceling headphones you are able to eliminate background noise, so you don’t have to turn the volume to dangerous levels in order to hear. (Be sure to only use them when safe. Walking or biking anywhere where there’s traffic, or alone at night is not safe!)
● Wear your hearing protection:
o If your job involves loud machinery, it’s important to use your hearing protection as required.
o A lot of people forget to use hearing protection, like earplugs, when using home appliances like power tools. Don’t forget this step!
● Avoid chemicals that can cause hearing loss:
The OSHA website is a great place to check for work related ototoxic chemicals (Chemicals that can harm your ears). Arming yourself with this information can help you make sure you’re taking all necessary precautions when dealing with these toxins. Particularly at-risk industries are construction and manufacturing.
● Check your medications:
Many medications have adverse side-effects to your ears and hearing. Some can cause hearing loss, and some can cause tinnitus (ringing in the ears). Be sure to speak with your doctor or pharmacist about the effects your medications can have.
Some types of hearing loss are unavoidable, depending on your health and age. But if we can help you prevent hearing loss, or prevent further hearing loss, we’d like to try. We want to make sure your hearing is in the best condition possible so you can fully participate in your life and the lives of the people you love. As always, stay safe.