Hearing loss is expected to become a major public health issue. As the aging population grows, there are more and more people experiencing issues with their hearing, which can be damaged by loud noises, or just by age. Although this concern is only a speculation at the moment, it’s still a good idea to take a proactive focus on preventing hearing loss. Here are a few strategies that you can use in order to protect your hearing, well into old age, and help maintain your independence

Be Aware Of Noise

We live in a pretty noisy world, and unfortunately, that means that it is very easy to get so used to excessive levels of noise that you aren’t always aware of when you are exposing your ears with too much noise, at too high a volume. The first step to protecting your hearing is to focus on becoming more aware of the sounds around you, so you can make good decisions about how best to protect your ears. 

Look at a decibel loudness comparison chart to get some context about how loud things actually are. A whisper registers at around 30 dB, a typical conversation is around 60 dB, a kitchen blender is about 80 to 90 dB, a lawn mower is around 160 dB, and a jackhammer is 130 dB. Understanding how loud something is means you can better stay away from noises that are too loud. 

Limit Noise At Home

Limit the amount of loud noise that you experience at home by buying quieter products. For example, if you are planning to buy a new dishwasher, then check the decibel ratings before you decide which one you want to buy. The lower the number is, the quieter the model is. The decibel rating matters. If the dishwasher is even just one decibel louder than another model, then this an increase of 30 per cent in noise level. 

Make sure you carefully monitor how loud you play music at home as well, especially if you use a personal listening device with earphones or headphones that play the music directly into your ears. You should give your ears a break for five minutes every hour when you’re using earphones to let your ears recover from the noise. 

Wear Hearing Protection Whenever Necessary

Loud noise causes hearing loss and this includes noises like loud machinery. It also includes lots of other loud sources of noise, such as power tools, firecrackers, loud music at concerts, and much more. 

Excessive levels of loud noise cause damage to your inner ear’s delicate hair cells, which can cause permanent hearing loss, as well as conditions like tinnitus (learn more here). When you have to be around lots of loud noise, like a concert, make sure you wear earplugs or earmuffs. If you still work and are exposed to loud noises at work, such as on a construction site, you should speak to your employer if you are concerned about the level of protection that is provided for your hearing. If you are given ear protection at work, make sure you wear it. 

Have Routine Hearing Tests

Make sure you have regular hearing tests and compare the results from year to year. This will help you to detect any changes in your ability to hear as soon as possible, giving you time to get help before the problem gets worse. If you experience symptoms like buzzing or ringing in your ears after being exposed to very loud noise, or if you notice you are having difficulty understanding people when they talk after you have been exposed to noise, then you need to speak to your doctor and arrange a test as soon as possible. 

Leave Earwax Alone

When you put a cotton swab or other small object like this into your ears to try to clean out the wax, this can cause some serious damage to your eardrum or your ear canal. You might also accidentally achieve the opposite of what you’re trying to do, and actually push the earwax deeper into the canal. Both of these things can diminish your ability to hear and cause unpleasant ear infections. Your ear is self-cleaning, so you don’t need to use any kind of cleaning tool inside your ear. Nothing smaller than your own finger should ever be put into your ear. You can use cotton swabs to clear the outer portion of your ear if you want to though. If you’re worried about ear wax build-up, your doctor can clear it out safely for you.