Who should and how to prevent hearing loss?

Hearing loss of permanent type is called Sensorineural hearing loss. It is irreversible and is believed to be the direct consequence of damaged inner/ outer hair cells or the nerve fibres attached to these hair cells deep in the inner ear. While a very small percentage of individuals are born with a Sensorineural hearing loss, a majority of them acquire it over the age, and the onset NOT necessarily limited to old age.

It is apparent that a majority of parents of pre-teen kids are concerned about their kids’ music listening habits. The concerns are even more with a majority of teens using earphones as a regular accessory and ‘unsafe’ volume as a style statement. In post-teen years, the youth is increasingly being exposed to smoking and disco music (sound intensity is often more than 95 dB). In the adulthood, exposure to some unhealthy living habits and unsafe levels of work-related noise lead to Sensorineural hearing loss. After the middle age, a cumulative of health conditions and increased genetic manifestations make it tough for your ears. 

Generally acquired a type of Sensorineural hearing loss often starts at high-frequency zones of the inner ear and spreads to other parts as well, often at a gradual pace year after year. Hence, it is important to take care of inner ear and prevent Sensorineural hearing loss by individuals of all age groups. Pick and choose one or more from the following tips according to the cause of hearing loss suspected by your audiologist or ENT doctor.

Regular (once in 6 months) hearing check-up is mandatory for everyone diagnosed with the Sensorineural hearing loss. While it is helpful to follow these tips, it is important to start using a hearing aid when the Sensorineural hearing loss is more than 35 dB in one or both ears. Ignoring hearing loss beyond 1-2 years is shown to have several influences on brain functioning and those even more challenging to deal with.

1. Use earplugs

The louder the noise and the longer you're exposed to it, the greater the chance of damaging your hearing. Protect your ears with ear protectors – earplugs or earmuffs – and get away from the noise as quickly or as often as you can. If you can't leave the venue, take regular breaks. A 10-minute rest break will give your ears some time to recover.

2.  Turn down the music

Don't listen to your personal music player at very high volumes and never to drown out background noise. If the music is uncomfortable for you to listen to, or you can’t hear external sounds when you’ve got your headphones on, then it's too loud. It's also too loud if the person next to you can hear the music from your headphones.

3. Use the 60:60 rule

To enjoy music from your MP3 player safely, listen to your music at 60% of the maximum volume for no more than 60 minutes a day. All MP3 players bought within the EU have a 'smart volume' feature, so use it if you have one. It will help you regulate the volume.

4. Wear headphones

When listening to your personal music player, choose noise-cancelling headphones, or go retro with older muff-type headphones. These block out background noise and allow you to have the volume lower. Earbud style headphones and in-the-ear headphones are less effective at drowning out background noise. Try to take regular breaks from your headphones, though, to give your ears a rest.

5. Turn down the dial

Turn down the volume on your TV, radio or hi-fi a notch. Even a small reduction in volume can make a big difference to the risk of damage to your hearing. If you need to raise your voice to be heard above the sound, turn it down.

6. Good Diet

You can increase your inner ear’s resistance to the boon of age-related hearing loss by keeping a healthy dose of:

  • Zinc - found in dark chocolate, oysters, eggs, nuts, pumpkin seeds
  • Resveratrol – found in red wine and grapes
  • N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC) – found in poultry foods and yogurt
  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids – found in salmon fish, flax seeds, krill oil
  • Vitamin A – found in carrot, sweet potato and green y leaf vegetables

7. Don't put up with work noise

If you’re experiencing noise at work, talk to your human resources (HR) department or your manager and ask for advice on reducing the noise and getting hearing protection.

8. Do not Honk          

Your vehicle horns can damage the hearing of the others. Restrain from honking and help others live peacefully.

9. Be careful in the car

Listening to music in a confined space increases the risk of hearing damage. Don’t listen to music too loud for too long.

10. Have a hearing detox

Give your ears time to recover after they’ve been exposed to loud noise. You need at least 16 hours of rest for your ears to recover after spending around two hours in 100dB sound, for example in a club. Reducing this recovery time increases the risk of permanent deafness.