Hearing loss is usually a permanent condition. Once your hearing degenerates, it will not magically return; hearing aids can help restore your ability to communicate, but they are not a cure. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to prevent certain types of hearing loss – or at least reduce the odds of losing your hearing.
Noise exposure is a leading cause of hearing loss. Excessive noise damages the sensitive hair cells of the inner ear, and can cause permanent damage. Usually this happens over a period of time, but the condition can develop suddenly, as with a loud gunshot or explosion. Damaging noise may be associated with machinery, concerts, sporting events, power tools, firearms, fireworks, motorcycles, boats, snowmobiles and more. Symptoms of hearing loss include ringing in the ears, muffled or garbled speech, the frequent need to have others repeat themselves and watching television or listening to music at unusually high volumes.
To prevent noise-induced hearing loss, make sure to wear hearing protection whenever you are exposed to excessive noise. Custom earplugs molded to fit your ears offer the best protection. Musicians, hunters and swimmers should look for earplugs made specifically for the activities they engage in.
Another important step you can take is keeping the volume down! Do not watch television or listen to music that is too loud. This is especially true when listening to music through headphones or ear buds.
Do not insert foreign objects in your ears. This includes cotton swabs, safety pins and more. Doing so can damage the eardrum.
Regular hearing tests are another great line of defense. They can help detect hearing loss early, improving your chances of successful treatment.