Taking care of your ears
Our hearing is one of the most important senses we have, allowing us to communicate, balance ourselves, and make sense of the world around us. Experiencing hearing loss can be frustrating and upsetting, particularly as it often happens slowly, meaning that many people suffer unnecessarily until the issue is caught. To help you take care of your hearing and keep it a shard as possible, we’ve teamed up with expert hearing specialists Amplifon to bring you some top ear care tips that won’t affect your everyday life.
What causes hearing loss?
Age: The largest cause of hearing loss by far is age; as we get older, the hairs inside our ears which pick up vibrations and translate them into sounds slowly get smaller and become ineffective. High-frequency sounds like whistling or children speaking can become harder to pick up. Most people experience substantial hearing impairment by the time they’re 80 – while it’s impossible to control this decay, good preventative action can help slow the process down significantly.
Loud noises: Acoustic trauma occurs when part of the inner ear is damaged by loud noises. Prolonged exposure to high decibel levels, such as those from loud machinery or live music venues, can cause the cells in the cochlea to become inflamed and stop working. While the risk of acoustic trauma is not restricted to those who spend time in noisy environments, they do have a far higher chance of it developing than those subjected to one loud, sudden noise.
Blockages: Blockages stop sounds from passing into the inner ear, causing what is called conductive hearing loss. This can be due to a number of things, from a build-up of wax to a perforated eardrum or an infection.
How can you prevent it?
Block out noise: If you work in an environment with loud equipment, your employer is required by law to provide you with Personal Protective Equipment, including ear mufflers. Make sure you use them! Similarly, nightclubs and live music venues now offer free ear plugs, which you can get by asking security or bar staff. If you’re struggling to hear somebody speak normally to you, it’s likely you’re being exposed to too much noise, so move away to somewhere quieter if you can.
Be gentle: Despite what you might have been told, sticking things in your ears is not the best way to keep them clean – in actual fact, you can risk pushing wax further into your ear or even damaging your eardrum. Remember that while earwax may not sound pleasant, it is responsible for catching bacteria and dust that could otherwise cause infection. To keep your ears clean, simply wipe the inside gently with a damp piece of cotton. If you’re experiencing major problems, speak to a specialist rather than trying to treat it yourself!
Stay dry: After a shower, make sure you allow your ears to drain to ensure the protective layer inside your ear is not broken. Regular swimmers should use antiseptic drops to minimise the risk of infection, especially if you re swimming in untreated waters such as seawater or lakes.
Make these simple steps part of your daily routine, and you’ll be able to keep your hearing in peak condition for even longer!