The ability to hear is something that many of us have, yet don’t fully appreciate. Some of us may take it for granted, or some may go about their lives not thinking much about their ability to hear, and how it is such a blessing. For those who have total to partial hearing loss, they know that having this ability is not a trivial matter. If you think hearing loss is no big deal, think again. Hearing loss can affect your health, relationships, safety, and even your emotional state. However, education is the best way to stay prepared and vigilant, especially if you want to preserve your ability to hear.
During the month of May we celebrate Better Hearing and Speech Month, and in celebration, we bring you some simple ways you can protect your hearing.
- Eat a healthy diet. You are what you eat after all. Eating an unhealthy diet can increase your chances of developing health conditions that can affect your hearing, such as diabetes.
- Get out and get your body moving! By exercising, you get your heart pumping, and this pumps blood directly to your ears. Not only is exercise good for your physical body, but it will also help your ears stay healthy.
- Avoid loud noises at all costs. Kind of seems like a no-brainer, right? Keep your windows rolled up when you are in traffic, stay away from speakers at a concert, avoid giving your kids loud toys and keep your distance from all other loud sounds.
- Do you often operate noisy equipment, or enjoy shooting at the gun range? Wear ear protection, such as earplugs and earmuffs to help protect your ears from the damaging sound. If the noise level exceeds 85 dB, wear ear protection.
- Work in a loud environment? When you are subjected to loud noises for an extended period of time, make sure you take regular breaks. A good rule of thumb is to take at least a 10-minute break every hour.
- Keep the volume level set to an appropriate level on all of your electronic devices. This goes for televisions, portable DVD players, cell phones, radios, as well as personal MP3 players.
- Need to clean your ears? Don’t use a cotton swab! Your ears are self-cleaning, so putting anything inside your ears only increases your risk of damaging the sensitive organs in your ear. If you suffer from excessive earwax, see your doctor.
- Help fight swimmer’s ear and ear infections by keeping your ears dry. Water and moisture buildup will allow for the growth of bacteria, which can lead to a very painful condition that can affect your hearing. Ensure that your ears stay dry by wearing swimmer’s ear plugs and by gently drying your ears every time you exit the water.
- Smoke cigarettes? If you need another reason as to why you should quit, your hearing can be negatively affected by the toxins that cigarettes contain.
- Sometimes certain medications can contribute to hearing loss. Make sure you only take your medicine as directed. If you are concerned about your hearing ability, discuss the medications you are taking with your doctor.
- Schedule regular visits with a licensed audiologist, especially if you think you may have hearing loss. A physician can help you assess your condition and will work with you to determine the best course of action.