Hearing loss tends to come with age but it’s not guaranteed to occur. In fact, there are things you can do to prevent noise-induced hearing loss or at least stop it from getting worse. But first, you should know there’s more than one type of hearing loss.
Three types of hearing loss
Sensorineural hearing loss occurs when the nerves which carry sound to the brain are damaged. It can be caused by injuries, tumors, infections, and excessive noise exposure and usually affects both ears. The only treatment is a hearing aid.
Conductive hearing loss occurs when sound waves are blocked from being transferred to the nerves which are involved in the hearing process. The condition can be caused by excessive earwax, a punctured eardrum, infections or diseases. This type of hearing loss may affect only one ear and it can often be restored.
Mixed hearing loss is a combination of two conditions mentioned previously. It can occur for example, if someone with nerve damage or noise trauma gets an infection which makes their condition worse.
Hearing loss can often be treated
The treatment for hearing loss varies depending on the cause. It can range from simply removing ear wax to prescribing hearing aids, cochlear implants or reconstructive surgery. Hearing aids are the most popular treatment for hearing loss and there have evolved from the large, bulky items of the past. Many are tiny and quite techy these days. You can even get bluetooth hearing aids which allow you to comfortably watch TV, talk on your smartphone and listen to music.
Noise trauma can be prevented
It should be noted that hearing loss due to noise exposure is preventable. Any noise at or above 85 decibels can cause damage to the cells in the inner ear which take sound to the brain. For the purpose of comparison, normal speech is around 45 decibels which loud traffic can reach around 85 decibels. Fireworks can be in excess of 150 decibels.
Here are five things you can do to prevent hearing loss caused by loud noises.
- Reduce your exposure to persistent loud noises
- Wear protective earplugs, earmuffs or both if you will be exposed to noises above 85 decibels.
- Don’t smoke. You read that correctly. Tobacco can increase the likelihood that you lose your hearing.
- Don’t use cotton swabs to remove earwax. They can push it deeper into the ear and prevent you from hearing properly
- Check your drugs to see if they can harm your hearing. Some antibiotics and cancer-fighting drugs can have an impact on your ears.
You may not notice hearing loss coming on since it is rarely sudden. If you begin having trouble hearing people on the phone or you struggle to distinguish conversation from background notice or you notice a ringing or hissing sound, you should see your doctor. You should also make an appointment if you are experiencing ear pain, feelings of fullness, or ringing. These are signs of treatable or preventable hearing loss.