ear protection for hearing loss prevention

Ear Care 101: How to Take Proper Care of Your Ears

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Knowing how to properly care for your ears will go a long way in both protecting your hearing and the effectiveness of your hearing aids.

Here are a few steps you should take:

1.  Believe it or not, your ears are self-cleaning. That means you don’t actually need to clean them. Cotton swabs and ear candles can actually damage your ear drum, which can lead to conductive hearing loss. If you are experiencing excessive wax buildup, it is important to see your healthcare professional.

2.  Do you work or live in a noisy environment? Your ears are sensitive, and anytime you experience sounds above 85 decibels it can damage your hearing—permanently. Wear protective earmuffs or earplugs if you know you’re going to be exposed to loud noises.1

3.  Diet has been found to play a crucial role in both your health and the way we hear. In fact, studies show a very strong relationship between the type of foods we eat and our susceptibility to hearing loss as we age. While there’s no hard-set rule for which types of foods you should eat and the amount of calories you should be consuming, practicing sound dietary habits today may go a long way in helping you hear better tomorrow.2

4.  Frequently using pain relievers, such as aspirin or ibuprofen, can actually lead to either temporary or permanent hearing loss. This is because these types of medication are classified as ototoxic, which mean that over time they literally poison your ears. While using pain relievers to help when you feel ill is fine, taking medication every day can cause your ears permanent damage. Consult your physician regarding any current medications you may be taking.3

5.  As if there weren’t enough reasons to quit smoking, you can now add increased risk of hearing loss to the list. The chemicals found in cigarettes may affect the way your ear processes sound. In fact, smokers have been found to be 15% more likely to have hearing loss than non-smokers.4

Why It Matters

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Hearing loss may occur in a variety of different ways. Conductive hearing loss, which is the most common type in children, occurs when there are problems with your outer or middle ear; sensorineural hearing loss occurs when there is damage caused to the sensory cells of the inner ear, or if you’re exposed to loud sounds for an extended period of time; and mixed hearing loss, which can occur in different parts of your ear, is a combination of the two.

While some types of hearing loss, like sensorineural, are sometimes avoidable, others aren’t. That’s because your eardrums are made up of three tiny bones that work cohesively to help you hear. In fact, these bones, collectively known as your ossicles, are among the smallest bones in the human body. They’re also among the most fragile.

Hearing loss isn’t fatal, but it can lead to a number of health-related issues down the line. Dementia & depression have been linked to untreated hearing loss, so be sure to have your ears checked regularly. After all, you’re not only improving your hearing, you’re improving your health. Get started today by scheduling a free hearing test.

1 http://www.dangerousdecibels.org/education/information-center/noise-induced-hearing-loss

2 http://www.audiology.org/news/thoughts-diet-and-hearing-loss

3 http://www.asha.org/public/hearing/Ototoxic-Medications/

4 http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140606091541.htm