Your hearing is vital for learning, communication and safety yet you may not have thought much about the impact a hearing loss could have on your life. You may think that losing some sound wouldn’t be too bad but those with hearing loss will tell you it can be tiring, lonely and frustrating.
Hearing loss can be caused by many different things. It can happen gradually or quite suddenly. When hearing loss is gradual, it’s very easy to ignore - for a while. Always seek help quickly for any ear problems. Protecting your hearing now will increase your chances of enjoying the sounds you love later in life. Prevention is always better than a cure. And some hearing problems, such as noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL), currently have no cure.
Here are 10 tips to prevent hearing loss:
1. Get help
If you have a sudden severe hearing loss, see a doctor urgently. Also, if you have some hearing loss, and your hearing doesn’t return to normal within two days, see your doctor.
2. Avoid noise damage
Avoid prolonged or repeated exposure to loud noise. Learn more: Noise damage.
3. Avoid loud music
Listen to music at a sensible volume. Don’t have the volume up too loud for long periods, especially on a personal music player with headphones/ear buds.
4. Use protective gear
Always wear safety-approved earplugs or earmuffs when mowing the lawn, using power tools, shooting a gun or in any noisy environment.
5. Act on ear infections
If you or your child has an earache, see the doctor. Earaches are often a sign of an ear infection which, if not treated, can lead to hearing loss. Keep a careful eye on children up to age 10 as they are more likely to have middle ear problems.
6. Avoid foreign objects
Don’t put foreign objects into your ear canal. The wax in your ear canal will make its own way to your outer ear. You can clean your outer ear with a warm flannel, or have the wax removed by your doctor.
7. Avoid cotton wool
Don’t use cotton wool instead of earplugs. Cotton wool offers no hearing protection at all. It can also damage the ear if pushed too far in.
8. Use protection for water sports
During high-speed water sports like water skiing, wear a swim cap or approved swimmer’s earplugs.
9. Dive carefully
Too much change in air pressure while scuba diving can cause inner ear damage, dizziness and hearing loss. Equalise regularly during descent. If you are having difficulties seek professional advice before you dive again.
10. Avoid air travel with a heavy cold
In a plane, your ears may be unable to clear during changes in air pressure, which could lead to a ruptured eardrum or inner ear damage.
SOURCE: National Foundation for the Deaf Inc. & Oticon