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Can Hearing Loss Be Prevented?

Everyone is exposed to different noises varying in intensity, sound level and proximity throughout the day. While we usually do not sense their immediate effect on us, especially if we are used to them, e.g. car traffic, they still can have a very negative impact on our hearing later on.

Hearing loss is a problem which is growing and more significantly, the average age affected is decereasing. Neglect over hearing protection and denial of symptoms can lead to permanent hearing impairment so it is best to take adequate measures in order to avoid hearing loss.

In many cases, hearing loss is attributed to old age and the natural deterioration of health over time. Nevertheless, this does not mean that people should not try to protect their hearing. Hearing loss can be noise induced and can occur at any time in a person’s life. In many situations, it can be self-inflicted due to a lack of simple prevention.

Noise induced hearing loss

Noise induced hearing loss is spreading at a very quick pace and is affecting both the elderly and young adults who are or who have been exposed to abrupt loud noises or loud environments for a prolonged period of time. Sometimes, after such an exposure, tinnitus or ringing in ears may occur, which may be accompanied by a temporary or permanent hearing loss. Situations in which you should be careful and use ear protection such as earplugs or earmuffs include:

• loud work environment, e.g. a construction site or machinery in a factory
• loud music from MP3 players, home stereo systems, rock concerts, motor races etc.
• abrupt close noises such as explosions, fireworks, gun shots, etc.

You should avoid repeatedly spending hours around loud noises over 75dB. What is common for noise induced hearing loss is that it is gradual and usually does not manifest suddenly so when it seems safe to be around blasting music or a lawnmower, actually that leaves a lasting damage on the sensitive hair cells in the inner ear. Once impaired, they cannot heal or regenerate leading to a hearing loss that may be mild or even severe, deteriorating further with time.

Presbycusis

Presbycusis or hearing loss due to age progression is very common among people over 60 mainly due to the detrimental effect of the free radicals in the human body. With time, they start to inflict more damage on body cells. Presbycusis usually starts with having trouble hearing high-pitched sounds and quiet talking, thus many of the elderly listen to the TV or radio at an increased volume and do not hear phones or doorbells ringing. Although this condition is common, there are many ways people can protect their hearing throughout their life and avoid severe hearing loss.
Prevention includes:

• staying away from sources of loud noises
• having regular hearing checks
• taking timely measures when there are ear infections or earwax impaction
• avoiding entering objects in the ear canal such as cotton buds, sharp edges, tissues
• having a healthy diet rich in Vitamins D and E, magnesium, zinc etc.

Studies show that smokers are more likely to suffer from hearing loss than non-smokers, so yet another reason to quit smoking!