6 Things You Can Do Right Now to Prevent Hearing Loss
If you want to be hearing your favourite tunes for many years to come, you need to be proactive and start protecting your hearing as soon as possible. 1 in 6 Australians are affected by hearing loss, and with an increasingly ageing population, this number is only expected to increase to 1 in 4 by the year 2050.
One-third of Australians will have measurable hearing loss by the time they turn 65 years old. As you have already guessed, the most common causes of hearing loss are old age, followed by excessive exposure to loud sounds.
Some hearing losses can also be caused due to genetic predisposition, persistent ear infections, complications at birth and toxicity from certain medications.
The Impact of Hearing Loss
Hearing loss is usually slow progressing, thus it’s often difficult to ascertain and notice when someone has hearing loss. As opposed to visual deficits, many people do not pay a great deal of attention to their hearing health and only notice a difference in their hearing after significant damage has already occurred.
Hearing loss can lead to a variety of deficits, impacting your ability to communicate and participate in society. The most common is decreased audibility, where those with hearing impairments cannot hear some sounds, depending on the type and severity of hearing loss. This may lead to a deficit in speech clarity as some essential parts of speech are essentially inaudible.
Other facets to hearing loss include:
- A decreased dynamic range, meaning the threshold of audible sound and threshold of uncomfortable loud sounds is decreased. This reduction in dynamic range means some sudden sounds will sound too loud but at the same time, soft speech sounds are still muffled.
- In addition to this, a person with hearing loss also has decreased frequency resolution, meaning they have difficulty separating the sound of different frequencies from one another.
- Another common phenomenon of hearing loss is decreased temporal resolution, where loud sound can mask weaker sounds, and thus you are unable to perceive the weaker sounds which occur immediately after loud consonants, affecting speech intelligibility, especially in competing for background noise.
What Are Signs You May Have Hearing Loss?
There are various signs which may help you identify any hearing loss you may have:
- Constantly turning the TV or music volume up
- Often asking conversational partners to repeat themselves
- Withdrawing and isolating to avoid conversations
- Positioning yourself in a certain way to hear better
- Not hearing the phone or doorbell ring
- Difficulty understanding conversations in background noise
- Family and friends being concerned about your hearing
- Getting tired from having to concentre to hear
- Other people needing to speak loudly for you to understand
- Having a constant ringing in ears
Continue reading to learn more about the top 10 signs you need a hearing test.
Approximately 60 percent of hearing loss in children are preventable. Whilst genetic factors that contribute to hearing loss cannot be controlled, you can protect your hearing by a variety of other means.
These include wearing hearing protection and seeking advice from qualified audiologists if you have any concerns about your hearing. If you have a sudden hearing loss, it’s important you seek medical help immediately.
How to Protect Your Hearing
1. Wear Hearing Protection
Hearing loss due to loud noise is very common in both adults and children. Noise-induced hearing loss from excessive workplace noise is a major concern for those working in mining, with heavy machinery and in factories.
Other means of exposure to loud sounds occur via recreational shooting, loud personal music players, concerts and clubs are loud enough to damage your hearing if you have to raise your voice to talk to others, others voice sound muffled, you have ringing in your ears.
Your employer or Workplace Health and Safety Officer are obliged to make changes to reduce your exposure to loud noise by switching to quieter equipment if needed, making sure you are not exposed to loud noise for prolonged periods. You should also ensure to wear adequate hearing protection, such as earmuffs or custom-made earplugs, based on the amount of noise you are exposed to.
2. Regular Hearing Screening
If you have noticed reduction or recent changes in your hearing or other people are telling you that you are missing lots of conversations, it’s important you schedule an appointment with your nearest audiologist for appropriate care. If you have lost your hearing, you can take actions to prevent further hearing loss.
3. Hearing Aids
If you have hearing loss, stimulate your auditory pathways with amplification devices, such as hearing aids or cochlear implants. If hearing loss is left untreated, it can alter the way your brain process sounds for long-term.
This is also known as auditory plasticity. What this means is just like other muscles in the body, our brain can atrophy when auditory processing centres become impaired. Recent research has indicated that wearing hearing aids delay the onset of dementia.
Treating hearing loss also offers other benefits including staying socially connected to society, which in turn is key to improving mental and physical wellbeing.
4. Listen to TV and Radio at a Safe Volume
According to the World Health Organization, 1.1 billion teenagers and young adults worldwide are at risk for noise-induced hearing loss from unsafe use of personal audio devices and live concerts. As earbuds direct the sound into the ear, they are more dangerous compared to the overhead headphones.
Simple steps like listening to music at safe volume are established by most mobile phone manufacturers to preserve your hearing health. So, you can limit your exposure to harmful noise levels by knowing how long, how loud and how often you are exposed to loud noise.
5. Give Your Ears Time to Recover
Make sure you are giving your ears a break from constant noise as noise exposure is cumulative. For example, if you are attending a three-day music festival, make sure you are taking small breaks regularly to reduce the overall time you are exposed to noise.
6. Keep Your Ears Dry
Excess moisture allows bacteria to inhibit and spread infection inside the ear canal. As a result, your ears may feel itchy or even painful. When you are swimming or showering, make sure you also dry your ears with a towel or tilt your head to side and tug on your earlobe to gently coax the water out.
These few proactive steps might be the key to preserve your hearing health for the long-term. If you have any further questions, please contact the team of friendly and qualified audiologists at Attune Hearing. With over 50 accredited clinics Australia-wide, we are the number one hearing-healthcare provider in the country. Book your hearing test today!