How to Prevent Hearing Loss: 10 Things You Need to Know
Did you know that noise is one of the main causes of hearing loss in the United States? If you think you aren’t exposed to a lot of noise, think again. From crying children to lawnmowers to traffic, we’re bombarded by loud sounds on all sides.
Over time, this can have a devastating effect on your hearing. If you have hearing loss, this can make it worse.
According to the Hearing Loss Association of America, 40 million American adults have noise-induced hearing loss.
But what may surprise you even more is the fact that many of these Americans don’t have noisy jobs. This means that their regular environment was noisy enough to cause hearing damage.
Of course, long-term exposure to loud noises is just one of the many causes of hearing loss. There are several residents in skilled nursing facilities who have experienced hearing issues as a result of lifetime exposure to noises in addition to the natural hearing loss that comes with aging.
We’ll look at the different types of hearing loss as well as some helpful tips on how to prevent hearing loss or how to keep your current hearing from getting worse.
10 Tips on How to Prevent Hearing Loss
The following are some guidelines on how to prevent hearing loss.
- Avoid noisy situations. If you have to raise your voice to be heard by someone near you, then that’s a red flag. You should avoid any noisy environments such as construction sites or loud music.
- Wear ear protection. If you know that you’re going to be in an environment that will be loud, be sure you’re taking the proper precautions, especially if you have a noisy job. Other situations that might require ear protection are using a leaf blower, a lawnmower or even vacuuming.
- Enjoy quiet activities. It’s much easier on your ears to enjoy quiet leisure activities–such as chess, painting or even visiting with friends—instead of louder ones like attending live concerts.
- Reduce the time of noise exposure. If it’s unavoidable to be in a loud environment, and you don’t have ear protection, be sure to limit the amount of time there.
- Don’t listen to loud music. Turning the volume down can go a long way toward protecting your hearing.
- Know your medications. Some medications can damage your hearing. Speak with your doctor if you have concerns about your prescription. Be sure to discuss side effects with your health care providers, especially if you are in a skilled nursing community.
- Don’t smoke. If you smoke, quit. Research has indicated there is a connection between smoking and hearing loss, according to the National Institute of Health.
- Get your hearing tested. If you’re concerned that you may be experiencing hearing loss, contact an ear, nose and throat physician or a licensed audiologist. They can give you helpful advice and fit you with a hearing aid if necessary.
- Stay away from the source. If you’re going to be in a noisy environment—such as a concert, movie, or speaking event—move as far away from the amplifiers or speakers as possible.
- Know your sound environment. We’ve talked about eliminating noisy environments and limiting your time in them, but first you need to know how noisy your current environment is to see if it poses a hazard.It may help to know the decibel level of common sounds. Many recommend hearing protection for noises above 80 decibels. This information on noises from the CDC outlines the decibel levels of common sounds.
Decibel Levels of Common Sounds
Decibel Levels of Common Sounds
What Are 3 Types of Hearing Loss?
There are three main types of hearing loss: sensory hearing loss, conductive hearing loss and mixed hearing loss.
Sensory Hearing Loss
Sensory hearing loss, also called sensorineural hearing loss, occurs after the inner ear has been damaged, and there are problems with the nerves that lead from your inner ear to your brain.
As a result, loud sounds may be garbled or unclear and soft sounds can be extremely difficult to hear. This is the most common type of hearing loss.
Typically, someone with sensory hearing loss will not benefit from medication or surgery.
However, hearing aids are particularly helpful, according to information from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.
What are the causes of sensory hearing loss?
The main causes of sensory hearing loss are:
- Medications that damage hearing
- An injury or concussion
- Exposure to loud noises
- Defects in the formation of the inner ear
Conductive Hearing Loss
This occurs when the sound waves can’t pass through the outer and middle ear. Usually, this type of hearing loss can be resolved through surgery or medication.
What causes conductive hearing loss?
Conductive hearing loss may be caused by:
- A severe ear infection
- Fluid that gathers in your ear
- A tear or hole in your eardrum
- Noncancerous tumors
- Swimmer’s ear
- An object stuck in the ear
Mixed Hearing Loss
If the conductive hearing loss occurs around the same time as a sensory hearing loss, then it’s called mixed hearing loss, and it’s the third type of hearing loss.
What Causes Hearing Loss?
We’ve already reviewed how noise and medications can contribute to hearing loss, but there are other causes as well. According to the American Speech Language Hearing Association, these include:
- Otosclerosis, a middle ear disease
- Meniere’s disease, an inner ear disorder that causes problems with balance
- Autoimmune diseases of the ear
- Head injuries
- Acoustic neuroma, a type of tumor that can cause hearing loss
Do I Need a Hearing Aid or Other Treatment?
Only an ear, nose and throat physician or an audiologist can accurately make this assessment. If you’re having difficulty understanding what others are saying, it may be time to schedule an appointment.
The type of treatment you need will depend upon the type of hearing loss you have experienced. You’ll need to be evaluated by an audiologist to ensure you get the type that is appropriate for you.
There are different types of hearing aids, and many even come equipped with Bluetooth technology so you can answer your phone and even listen to your music (just make sure it’s not too loud.)
There are also special bone-anchored hearing aids that are good for those with conductive and mixed hearing losses. These amplify sound by sending the sound waves directly to the cochlea. The cochlea is the part of the ear that “translates” sound waves into neural “messages” that are delivered to the brain.
Bladen East Offers Advanced Skilled Nursing Care
The older you get, the more likely you are to have hearing loss. Several of those at our skilled nursing community have hearing loss, and we work with them to ensure they are able to communicate effectively with caregivers and their family members.
If you have hearing loss, we can help you implement safety precautions to ensure that it doesn’t get worse.
At Bladen East, we offer a caring environment that will make you feel at home right away. See why our residents love the peaceful atmosphere of Bladen East. We invite you to schedule a visit. We’d love to meet you.