Even the most health-conscious individuals can overlook the wellbeing of their ears—Dear Doctor investigates the best ways to protect your hearing.
There are various factors that can contribute to hearing loss and damage, many of which are out of our control—namely old age and genetics. There are, however, some triggers that can be avoided, such as exposure to high noise levels, specific medications and the development of infection. We highlight some of the best ways to protect your hearing.
Check your prescription
Ingredients included in certain medications can have a negative impact on your hearing and subsequently damage your ears—this is known as ototoxicity. Always discuss the possible side effects of your prescription medication with your doctor and request an alternative form of treatment if you are concerned.
Follow the 60:60 rule
Having a sound reverberating directly into your ear canal can increase its volume by six to nine decibels. Therefore, try to follow the 60:60 rule when using headphones—set the volume to 60 percent capacity and listen for no longer than 60 minutes per day.
Get regular checkups
Even if you are confident that your hearing is in good shape, regular check-ups conducted by your doctor are advisable. Arrange a yearly ear inspection in order to assess your hearing and catch any problems early.
Watch your step
One of the major causes of ear damage is injury. Head injuries, in particular, can inflict trauma to the temporal bones—which protect the ears—and potentially lead to hearing loss or long-lasting issues.
A common mistake people make when cleaning their ears is to use a cotton bud inside the ear canal—this technique can lead to a pierced eardrum or even spark an infection. Cotton buds should only be used to clean the ear’s exterior crevices. Instead, use gentle eardrops to resolve impaction issues and clear out excess wax.
Preempting situations that could cause your ears harm will help you to maintain healthy hearing in the long run. Bring earplugs in your bag and use them when necessary—particularly when you’re surrounded by noisy machinery or find yourself in a loud environment. While accidents cannot always be anticipated, try to use headgear when taking part in activities that could lead to a head injury, such as cycling or climbing.
Tinnitus, which is often described as a ‘ringing in the ears’, is a condition that will affect 30 percent of people at some point in their lives—according to tinnitus.org. The number of people with persistent tinnitus is around 10 percent. It is not completely clear why tinnitus appears in some people, but it is generally associated with age-related hearing loss, inner ear damage, earwax buildup, ear infection and diseases like otosclerosis. Some of the most common treatments for tinnitus include sound therapy, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and tinnitus retraining therapy (TRT), which aims to retrain the brain to tune out the sound.
The estimated amount of people suffering with some degree of hearing impairment or deafness in the UK
Source: Action on Hearing Loss