Hearing enhances our life in so many ways. Sounds connect us to other people, enrich our experiences, and enhance the activities we enjoy. By properly caring for your ears, you'll prevent hearing loss and keep the connection to all the things you love.
Hearing loss can happen to anyone who’s exposed to loud noises, regardless of age. Consider this: Adolescents and Baby Boomers are the two population segments that are most prone to hearing loss caused by prolonged, chronic exposure to loud noise. This is called noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL), and it’s permanent.
Listening to loud noises for too long damages the tiny nerve cells in your inner ear that are responsible for hearing. Ongoing exposure to sounds above 85 decibels (dB) can cause permanent hearing loss over time. but even a one-time event - like a gunshot or an explosion at close range - can do lasting damage.
To learn more about hearing protection, our helpful decibel chart can help you understand when sound sxposure can become dangerous.
Explore this list of simple, effective tips to protect your hearing and prevent hearing loss.
Ear wax is important natural ear protection. But when the body produces too much, it can build up, become impacted and prevent sound from entering the ear. Ear blockage from wax is actually one of the most common causes of conductive hearing loss, or hearing loss that occurs when sound is blocked from reaching the inner ear.
The good news is that this type of hearing loss is usually temporary. If the impacted ear wax is removed in a timely manner, hearing can normally be restored.
Your doctor can determine if the wax in your ears is normal and perform a simple procedure to clear up any blockage.
You can also treat ear wax buildup at home, but ditch the cotton swabs—they can push wax deeper into your ear and create buildup near the eardrum. Similarily, avoid ear candling, an alternative medical therapy meaent to remove ear wax that has neither been proven safe or effective. Consult your doctor or a licensed hearing care professional before attempting this or any other method for clearing wax buildup.
If you’ve ever traveled by plane, you’ve probably experienced a “popping” sensation in your ears during takeoff and landing.
This effect is due to our Eustachian tubes, passageways on either side of the head that connect the upper part of the throat to the middle ear. As air pressure rapidly builds and drops during flight, our ears feel blocked and it becomes difficult to hear. When our ears “pop,” it’s a sign that the Eustachian tubes are doing their job of equalizing air pressure in the middle ear.
However, flying while congested can create complications that lead to temporary or, in some cases, permanent hearing loss.
Congestion causes swelling to the tissues lining the Eustachian tubes and makes it impossible to equalize air pressure, leading to severe ear pain. In more serious cases, the pressure may cause your eardrum to burst.
It’s best to avoid air travel if you have a sinus infection or cold (to not only spare your ears, but your fellow passengers, as well), but if you must fly, take a nasal decongestant.
These medications help reduce swelling and open the passageways of the Eustachian tubes.
You can also use EarPlanes®, pressure-regulating ear plugs designed to reduce discomfort during air travel.
Oral health can affect other areas of our body—including the ears. Though a direct link between oral health and hearing health has not yet been established, good hearing health depends on good blood circulation.
If you have harmful bacteria in your mouth due to tooth decay or gum disease, the bacteria can enter your bloodstream and disrupt circulation. Without adequate blood flow, the hair cells in the inner ear are prone to damage known as sensorineural hearing loss.
Chronic stress saps energy and weakens the immune system, leaving us more prone to all kinds of health issues.
Stress can affect hearing in a variety of ways. The body’s response to high stress levels triggers an overproduction of adrenaline that can reduce blood flow to the inner ear—or disrupt it completely—and result in sensorineural hearing loss.
Evidence also reveals that tinnitus may increase when we’re under stress, and significant long-term stress often leads to the development of hypertension (high blood pressure), which is another condition linked to hearing loss and tinnitus.
While stress can result in hearing damage and tinnitus, living with these conditions may also increase stress. Finding ways to cope with stress, whether through therapy or other practices, is important to your overall health, including your hearing.
Diet has been found to play a crucial role in both our health and how well we hear. While there’s no hard rule for which types of foods you should eat for hearing loss prevention, practicing good dietary habits may go a long way in helping you hear better over time.
As for what you drink, be aware that alcohol and hearing loss are also linked. A study from the University of Ulm in Germany* found that heavy drinking over a long period of time can cause damage to the central auditory cortex, which is where sound is processed in the brain. Alcohol can also damage the tiny hairs of the inner ear—stereocilia—that play an important role in processing sound, picking up auditory information transferring it to your brain for processing. Once damage has been done, the effects can’t be reversed, so limiting your alcohol consumption can help protect your hearing.
Small changes can have a big effect on your hearing health. Take action and implement these three simple tips to protect your hearing. Watch now.
Many people are at higher risk of hearing loss due to their job. People in the following professions are commonly exposed to loud noise and should protect their ears to prevent occupational hearing loss.
Our hearing guide offers more hearing loss prevention tips, and information about hearing health, and hearing loss treatment. Download yours today!