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A Guide to Better Hearing and Preventing Hearing Loss

Read on to find out the best ways of preventing hearing loss

Vance Beckett
Photography by ©Philip Raphael for MMSCENE

Everyone experiences hearing loss to a certain extent. Some experience partial hearing loss which means they are unable to hear certain frequencies or below certain volumes. At the other end of the spectrum, some experience complete hearing loss and need hearing aids or cochlear implants. Despite all the myths surrounding hearing loss, there are two main reasons for hearing loss: age and noise. While there isn’t much we can do about the former, we can do something about the latter plus other factors that contribute to poor hearing and hearing loss.

Avoid Too Much Noise

Noise-induced hearing loss comes in many forms. A blast like fireworks or a gunshot can lead to immediate hearing loss while consistent sounds like the loud hum of an appliance can lead to gradual hearing loss. The damage is always cumulative and irreversible which is why we have to control the levels of noise around us.

So, how loud is too loud? If you cannot hear what someone is saying or you have to shout over the noise to be heard, that level of noise is damaging. Sounds from concert speakers, motorcycles, power tools and earphones are all loud enough to be damaging.

Earplugs and earmuffs are a must if your work entails working with noisy equipment. Limiting the amount of time you spend wearing earphones and headphones can also help, as can keeping the volume at the appropriate level, especially if you cannot avoid wearing them for long.

Vance Beckett
Photography by ©Philip Raphael for MMSCENE

Protect Your Ear Canal

Apart from noise, there are numerous other things whose introduction into the ear can cause hearing loss. The first one is water. Excess moisture in the ear for prolonged periods can increase the risk of bacterial infections and lead to wax build-up. Use ear protection when swimming to prevent water from entering the ears, and dry the canals properly after a swim, shower or bath to avoid these issues.

Another way to protect your ears is to avoid excess earwax build-up. Ear wax is crucial for protecting our ears from bacteria, foreign objects and infections. However, excess earwax can be a problem where a person can have difficulty hearing or where sounds can seem muffled. Trying to remove excess wax can lead to damage to the ear canal’s lining, so it is better to let a doctor handle it for you.

Small objects such as cotton swabs can also be problematic, especially when there is excess wax in the wars. This is because they can push the wax further into the canal instead of removing it, causing damage. This can lead to different levels of hearing loss, with severe cases leading to hearing loss.

Check Medications for Hearing-related Side Effects

All medications affect the body. Their healing effects are what makes them invaluable to modern medicine, but some medications have serious side effects. There are over 200 medications that can cause hearing loss.

Many of these are either cancer-fighting medications or antibiotics. Milder medications such as aspirin can also harm your ears depending on how your body reacts to them. Be sure to discuss with your doctor any prescription medications they prescribe, including their side effects and whether they can affect your ears.

If there is a possibility that prescribed medication will have such side effects, ask your doctor to check your balance and hearing before you start taking them and after you complete your dose. Also, ask your doctor whether there is an alternative they could prescribe that will not have these effects.

Philip Raphael
Photography by ©Philip Raphael for MMSCENE

Manage Your Cardiac and Overall Health

Many people do not realize that there is a link between cardiac health and hearing loss. Studies show that good blood circulation to the ear and its mechanisms is critical for good hearing health. Poor calculation and trauma, such as that caused to the small blood vessels of the inner ear, can lead to hearing loss.

Poor circulation contributes to hearing loss because it affects the hairs inside the cochlea. These hairs are important for translating soundwaves into electrical signals the brain can understand and interpret as sound. Poor circulation starves them of oxygen leading to their destruction. Since they do not regenerate, such destruction leads to permanent hearing loss.

This type of destruction can also happen to those with diabetes. Diabetes destroys the cells of the inner ear leading to hearing loss. Those living with diabetes should manage their blood glucose properly and follow their doctors’ advice to protect them from the various effects of diabetes, including hearing loss.

Consume Vitamins and Supplements Shown to Be Good for Hearing

A balanced diet with the right amounts of the right vitamins and minerals can help with hearing loss. B vitamins play a significant role in regulating fluid levels and improving oxygen utilization in cells, including those in the ears. Vitamin B9 (folic acid) has been shown to improve circulation and energy production in these cells.

Magnesium improves nerve function and prevents damage to the arteries. Zinc protects the hairs in your ears while also improving your immune system to prevent ear infections.

Have Your Ears Tested

While hearing loss is irreversible, there are different solutions that restore hearing such as hearing aids. To gauge the extent of your hearing loss and to see if you should get hearing aids, you should go for regular hearing tests. These tests are especially important for those who:

  • Have issues hearing conversations
  • Have a ringing in the ears
  • Work in noisy environments

If the doctor determines you need them, there are different types of hearing aids to choose from including in-the-ear, behind-the-ear and receiver, and in-the-ear hearing aids. There are also options for those with tinnitus, i.e., ringing in the ears.

If the doctor determines that you do not have hearing loss significant enough to warrant hearing aids or other interventions, they can advise you on the best ways to protect your ears and hearing.

Hearing loss can have a significant effect on your life, which is why it is important to learn how to improve and protect your hearing. Talk to a doctor if you are having hearing difficulties so they can help you plan for the future.

Images from MMSCENE PORTRAITS: Vance Beckett by Philip Raphael – See the full story here


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