One big part of hearing health is preserving the hearing you have — regardless of whether you have a hearing loss. Here are some empowering ways you can maintain your current level of hearing health.
Address Earwax Buildup
Did you know earwax buildup can negatively impact your hearing? Your ears naturally push out excess earwax, but sometimes it accumulates anyway, blocking sounds from reaching your eardrum.
If you don’t have an eardrum perforation, you might be able to soften the blockage and let it slough off naturally. Gently soften it with drops of warmed olive oil, almond oil, water, or a commercial solution.
Some substances are known to be damaging to your inner ears, and they’re called ototoxic. They can lead to or worsen hearing loss. Unfortunately, some medications are ototoxic, including certain drugs used to fight cancer.
If you suspect one of your prescribed medications is ototoxic, don’t stop taking it! Talk to your doctor or another provider about risks, alternatives, and ways to protect your hearing.
Hearing loss doesn’t happen in isolation. It can happen alongside other conditions, such as heart disease, kidney disease, diabetes, dementia, and other health problems.
It’s not clear whether these conditions cause hearing loss, are caused by hearing loss, or occur along with hearing loss because of a third condition that causes both. Regardless, being dedicated to total wellness can potentially help preserve your current hearing.
Use Hearing Protection
Hearing loss sneaks up on you — it takes a while to even notice you don’t hear as well as you used to. A loud job or hobby leaves you at even more risk of this sneaky condition.
Exposure to sounds louder than 85 decibels (dB) puts you at risk of hearing loss. For comparison, lawn mowers hit 90 dB, a riveting machine hits 110 dB, and a .22-caliber rifle 140 dB. But you can protect yourself with hearing protection. There are many types to match your lifestyle.
These foam plugs are inexpensive, easy to use, and should be discarded after use. They’re ideal for things you only do occasionally, such as attend fireworks shows.
For things you do more often that don’t require conversation, such as mowing the lawn, consider reusable earplugs. They’re easily cleaned and reused, and usually a cord is included so you don’t lose them.
Musicians’ earplugs do come in non-custom varieties and are built to let in important sounds but keep out bad sounds. You can hear the music and your friends, but your ears are safe from ear-crushing decibels.
They’re great for sports fans, too — they let in your friends’ banter, but not the damaging sound bursts during big plays.
Custom general earplugs
You can only get these through a hearing care professional. They’re better at keeping out harmful sounds because they’re built from a mold of your ear. These are an excellent choice for hunters, farmers, and others who are around loud noise frequently.
Custom musicians’ earplugs
These are ideal for those who have loud professions but also need to speak to others and hear environmental sounds — for example, professional musicians and construction workers.
These fit completely over the ear. Soft, padded cups are ideal for air circulation, and they’re available in foldable, easy-to-carry styles. These are recommended for young children because they’re safer and easier to use.