Protecting the Hearing You Have Left

Protecting the Hearing You Have Left

The road from recognizing age-related hearing loss to deciding how to proceed with treatment is long and winding. Hearing loss treatment delays can vary, but most people tend to wait a decade before they decide to act. As ubiquitous as the condition is, most people put off confronting hearing loss until things get ‘really bad.’ 

One-third of the population over 65 experiences some degree of permanent hearing loss. The majority of cases are brought on by the aging process itself, and the compounding effects on a person’s life can be devastating.

When people are trying to avoid dealing with their hearing loss, they often neglect the necessity of safeguarding their remaining hearing in order to concentrate on the hearing that has been lost. Hearing-impaired individuals should take precautions to safeguard what hearing they do have.

How Age Impacts Hearing Health

Because of its strong correlation with age, hearing impairment is typically associated with the elderly. And while the majority of people with hearing loss tend to be older, one in eight Americans over the age of 12 have hearing loss in both ears. 

Age itself, however, impacts hearing in a particular way. The delicate but crucial inner ear cells gradually degenerate over time. We each have a set number of these sensitive cells at birth, and they neither repair themselves nor repopulate. They’re key players in the hearing process because it’s their job to take in environmental sound and convert it into electrical signals that are sent to the brain for processing. 

Hearing loss often manifests itself first in a decline in one’s ability to understand spoken language in conversation. This is because the ability to hear particular frequencies (often higher ones) diminishes as inner ear cell function is lost. 

What Do We Call The Hearing We Have Left?

The hearing we still have after the onset of hearing loss is known as residual hearing, and it is critically important. It’s relevant to our ability to continue to function with mild or moderate levels of hearing loss. Residual hearing is also important for maintaining our safety, as it helps keep us aware of environmental sounds like car horns and alarms. 

If hearing aids or other interventions are used to treat hearing loss, the process can go more smoothly if the patient has a larger amount of residual hearing to work with. 

Although it’s tempting to dwell on the hearing we no longer have, it’s of utmost importance to take care of what we do have.

The Perils of Constant Noise

Exposure to loud noise is second only to age as a cause of hearing loss. Spending a lot of time in loud environments might be harmful to your hearing. This doesn’t only apply to people employed in noisy workplaces, everyday activities carry a risk of hearing harm, too.

The world itself seems to get louder every year as a result of amplifiers and other personal listening devices. Young people, in particular, are impacted by noise-induced hearing loss, so much that the World Health Organization recently issued a warning of future hearing loss as a result. 

While we can’t turn back time or take a pill to de-age us, noise is the only cause of hearing loss that may be mitigated by taking preventative measures to safeguard what hearing remains.

Protecting the Hearing You Have Left

A simple technique to safeguard your hearing is to turn down the volume. Keep the volume in your car or at home at a level where you can still have a conversation. 

If you participate in noisy hobbies like live music, boating/snowmobiling, or even frequently attend loud sporting events, talk to an audiologist about investing in hearing protection like earplugs or noise canceling headphones to protect your hearing in the long term.

The danger to your hearing health is increased if you regularly use headphones or earbuds for long periods of time, which can deliver dangerous decibels. To protect your hearing, keep the volume at around two-thirds of its maximum level, and no higher. 

Modest Modifications, Big Impact 

Lifestyle modifications have been shown to have a beneficial link with protecting your hearing or preserving what hearing you have. Make small additions to your current habits, like adding a fruit to lunch and a vegetable at dinner. You don’t have to completely overhaul your diet to see benefits; even minor adjustments can have a big impact. The vitamins and minerals found in fresh produce can help maintain healthy hearing, and fatty fish deliver beneficial omega-3’s.

Find a form of physical activity that you enjoy doing and make it a regular part of your life. Aim for five to ten minutes of enjoyable movement a few times a week if you’re currently sedentary and exercise sounds daunting. Turn on your favorite song and dance around — that counts! 

Contact Our Staff Today!

Every day, we strive to make it easier for people to hear. Contact our office to set up a quick hearing test as the first step on your path to better hearing.