Hearing Loss Prevention
Hearing loss is the third most common physical health condition in the United States, trailing only arthritis and heart disease. Natural aging (presbycusis) is one of the leading causes, and while there isn’t much you can do to prevent this, other types of hearing loss can be avoided by adhering to a few simple strategies designed to protect your ears.
Noise exposure is one of the biggest causes of hearing loss, and is the most common occupational illness in the United States.
Repeated exposure to loud noise damages the hair cells of the inner ear, resulting in permanent, sensorineural hearing loss that may be accompanied by a persistent ringing in the ears known as tinnitus. The condition develops gradually and without symptoms, so you may not even notice you are experiencing a hearing loss until it has progressed to an untreatable stage.
Preventing hearing loss from noise involves having an awareness of when you are being exposed to harmful noise levels. People who work in high-noise environments, such as factory workers, military personnel, construction workers, miners, police officers, and musicians, are probably already aware of the danger posed to their hearing on a daily basis. But even recreational factors can contribute to excessive noise levels. Concerts, sporting events, firearms, motorcycles, boats, snowmobiles – even lawn mowers – can all cause permanent hearing damage over time. It’s important to always wear hearing protection, such as earplugs, when exposed to these types of situations.
Hearing loss prevention includes limiting your exposure to noise at home as much as possible. Turn down the volume level when listening to music, and teach your children about the dangers of listening to music that is too loud when wearing ear buds or headphones.
Have your hearing tested on a regular basis, especially if you work in an industrial or other high-noise environment. Routine screenings can help catch problems early, giving you an opportunity to take precautions to protect your hearing before it’s too late.