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Hearing loss is a normal part of aging, but the question of how to prevent hearing loss is one worth answering. As you get older, you start to lose hair cells in the inner ear, which turn sound waves into electrical impulses to be passed to the brain. This leads to sensorineural hearing loss.

Age-related hearing loss—known as presbycusis—might happen to everyone, but you can limit the amount of hearing you lose as you age, as well as prevent hearing loss from beginning at an early age. Follow these tips to keep your hearing healthy at any age.

1. Avoid the Noise

The best thing you can do for your hearing? Avoid loud noises. This is sometimes easier said than done, but nothing damages the hearing like overexposure to high levels of sound.

Sound levels are measured in units called decibels (dB). A normal conversation is about 60 dB, and anything under 75 dB is most likely safe. You’ll want to avoid prolonged exposure to anything louder than that, which can include:

  • Power tools
  • Lawnmowers
  • Jet engines
  • Concerts
  • Gunshot reports

2. Protect Your Ears

While avoidance is the best policy when it comes to loud noise, sometimes you can’t help being exposed to it. In such cases, it is wise to wear hearing protection whenever possible.

Picking a hearing protection device depends on a number of factors: the type and volume of the noise, personal preference and comfort. In general, there are three types:

  • Ear plugs go directly into the ear canal. These can be molded to the user’s ear or made of a soft, malleable material like foam.
  • Semi-insert ear plugs are attached to each other—and held in place—by a headband. These can be made of more rigid material than true ear plugs.
  • Ear muffs consist of plastic ear cups that seal off the ears from environmental noise. The cups go over the whole ear and, like semi-insert ear plugs—are attached to each other with a headband.

3. Careful with the Headphones

Headphones are ubiquitous in the modern world, and represent one of the greatest risks of noise-induced hearing loss, especially for younger people, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Headphones are especially tricky, because most people use them to drown out the world around them but turning the volume up to reduce environmental noise can be damaging to your hearing.

When you’re wearing headphones, if you have to shout to hear yourself, have trouble understanding someone talking right in front of you, or everything sounds muffled when you take the headphones off, the volume is probably too loud. The WHO recommends limiting headphone use. You can also use noise-cancelling headphones, which reduces environmental noise without having to crank the volume.

4. Pick the Right Medication

There are a large number of medications considered to be ototoxic—toxic to the ear—and which can damage your hearing. These medications cause damage to your hair cells, potentially leading to tinnitus and hearing loss.

It’s important to be familiar with ototoxic medication. Sometimes it is the only treatment available for your condition, in which case you’ll need to be aware of this. In other cases, your healthcare provider may be willing to work with you to find a treatment that is safer for your hearing.

Ototoxic medications can include:

  • Antibiotics
  • Cancer chemotherapy
  • Diuretics
  • Painkillers

…and more. Of course, not all medicines in these classes are ototoxic. Here is a list of some known ototoxic medications.

5. Eat Right

Diet can have a big effect on hearing for some patient populations. A May 2018 study by Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston analyzed data from more than 70,000 women over 22 years. The results suggest that women who follow diets such as the Alternative Mediterranean Diet or Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension (DASH) had an approximately 30 percent lower risk of moderate or worse hearing loss.

These diets have a few aspects in common, such as:

  • Primarily plant-based
  • Healthy fats
  • Limited red meat

It’s a good idea to eat fruits and vegetables, limit processed food and get enough protein and fat anyway, but if you’re concerned about your hearing, it may be even more important.

If you’re concerned about hearing loss, call Sonora Hearing Care. We have been in operation since 1989 and we have multiple doctors of audiology available to see patients. At Sonora Hearing Care, we take our time to figure out your hearing aid’s problem and provide the best, longest-lasting solution. Contact us today.