Hearing loss can occur at any age for any number of reasons. It most typically occurs between the ages of 49 to 55. It may, or may not, surprise you to learn that people often do not realize they have developed a hearing loss, as it can be a subtle and gradual change. Our guest post this week, by Tom Rokins with Boots Hearingcare, details several easy methods of care and prevention.
HOW TO LOOK AFTER YOUR HEARING
As you know, your ears are pretty important to living a high quality life – they are the things which hear everything going on around you, help you keep balance and help you get around in life.
Think about what things would be like if you suddenly lost your hearing tomorrow; it wouldn’t be a very enjoyable experience.
That’s why you should want to take as much care of those precious aural organs as possible. Thankfully, they’re not too difficult to look after – a bit of TLC and common sense should work wonders to keep your ears working better and for longer.
Keep Loud Music to a Minimum
Everyone’s hearing can be affected negatively by loud music, but some people are more sensitive to this damage than others. Think back to the last gig you went to, or the last time you spent all night clubbing – when you got home, you almost definitely experienced a ringing in your ears, a bit like tinnitus.
That is temporary hearing damage. Sadly, the more you expose yourself to these noisy environments, the more the hearing damage increases. This degeneration is usually slow and subtle – you don’t notice it until it’s too late.
It’s worth keeping in mind the “60/60” rule – if you listen to an MP3 player at 60% volume, keep it limited to 60 minutes a day or less. Noise-cancelling headphones can be of use; because they eliminate pesky background noise, you can hear better at a lower volume.
If you’re in the club or at a gig, make sure to keep a reasonable distance from the speakers and regularly step outside for a break. If your ears are hurting or ringing, or you have to shout to be heard by someone two meters (~7 ft.) away, the music is too loud.
Drugs That Can Harm Your Hearing
Some drugs can, believe it or not, damage your ears; these are called ototoxic drugs, and they can cause tinnitus and balance problems as well as hearing loss.
Some of these can actually cause permanent deafness, but it is incredibly unlikely that you will be prescribed one of those unless it is completely necessary, a life or death situation. Others will have a temporary effect, and should clear up once the drugs are out of your system.
Some cancer drugs can cause permanent hearing loss, such as Cisplatin. If you’re on a smaller dosage you should be fine, but higher ones could lead to deafness. Aminoglycoside antibiotics, used in treating potentially fatal diseases, can also cause hearing loss, but are becoming less common.
Aspirin and other salicylates can cause tinnitus, loss of hearing and even vertigo when taken in large doses, but these effects are reversible once you stop taking the drug. Quinine, the anti-malarial drug, can have similar results.
Ear Wax and Its Effects on the Ear
Maybe you think of ear wax as a nuisance. You’d be wrong – it protects the inside of your ears, trapping particles of dust, sweat, dirt and the like to prevent infections. It slowly works its way out, taking the rubbish with it.
Too much ear wax can cause itchiness, discomfort, or even slightly diminished hearing. Do not, under any circumstances, start rooting around in there with a cotton bud – this can push the wax further in or even do damage to your ear drum.
Instead, go and get an appointment with your doctor. Once it’s been cleared out, if you are still experiencing problems hearing, you should visit a trained audiologist.
About the author:
Tom Rokins wrote this article on behalf of Boots Hearingcare, the hearing aid specialists in the UK. If you need any advice on looking after your hearing or even want a free hearing test- get in touch.