Hearing loss affects everyone from babies to the elderly, and while it may seem like a mild disability, difficulty hearing can lead to dementia, depression, low self-esteem, relational difficulties, reduced earning potential, social isolation, insomnia and more. Impressive advancements have been made in treatments and hearing aids, but keeping ears safe from harm should be at the top of every person’s daily to-do list.
While not much can be done to prevent the hearing loss that naturally accompanies aging, there are plenty of practices that can help in protecting your hearing at work, school, concerts and more.
Drink Red Wine
Believe it or not, drinking red wine isn’t just an enjoyable practice and excellent steak accompaniment; it’s also a way to protect yourself against hearing loss. Red wine contains resveratrol, a naturally occurring substance that helps guard against hearing loss, aging and even memory loss.
Researchers found that rats that consumed resveratrol before listening to long periods of music at a high volume suffered less hearing loss than rats thatwere subjected to the same conditions but consumed no resveratrol. The researchers believe that resveratrol’s anti-inflammatory effects kept the rats’ ears safe from the injury that could have been incurred by the loud music.
So, if you’re heading out to hear a loud band—one of the causes of hearing loss—drink a glass of red wine before you go. Of course, that’s not all you should do. So, read on.
Avoid Loud Places
In general, it’s best to avoid loud places because of the damage that loud noises can do to your ears. Music venues that routinely have bands turned up too high, blast sites, construction zones, nightclubs, battle sites, drag races, freeways—any place where you have to raise your voice above the din to be heard—can all cause hearing loss.
While it isn’t always possible to avoid loud places, make sure you’ve made some arrangements for your own hearing protection when you do have to be in a loud environment so that damage is minimized.
Be Aware of Chronic Noise
Loud places can obviously damage to ears, but too few people realize that chronic lower-level noise can have deleterious effects as well. Sitting in a subway waiting for your train for a mere 15 minutes each day can result in hearing loss over time. So, can mowing the lawn a couple times a week for years. Be aware of the levels of chronic noise in your work, home and recreational environments, so you can take adequate precautions to protect your ears.
Wear Hearing Protection
One of the easiest and most foolproof ways to protect yourself against hearing loss comes in the form of hearing protection. Whether you’re at your favorite music festival or operating a power tool, employing a pair of earplugs or full-coverage ear muffs will lower volume levels by as much as 30 decibels.
For people who work in environments that reach above 85 decibels, hearing protection for the entire workday is essential and your employer is required by law to not only measure the amount of noise in your work environment, but to also provide for protection from that noise, training and annual hearing exams.
People who smoke are at an increased risk of hearing loss. While studies haven’t found smoking to be the cause of hearing loss on its own, the collective effects of smoking, increased age and exposure to noise has been found to increase the risk of hearing loss.
Keep Earwax Under Control
A buildup of too much earwax is a common cause of hearing problems. Because it will interfere with sounds waves’ ability to impact the eardrum properly, earwax must be kept at proper levels. If you’re experiencing trouble hearing and you suspect earwax, don’t try to remove it by inserting an object into your ear. Instead, consult your doctor or use over-the-counter drops to soften the earwax in order to aid removal.
Get Your Hearing Tested
Because untreated hearing loss can lead to a worsening of the condition, it’s important to get your hearing tested regularly. Especially if you work or live in a noise-filled environment, getting tested regularly can catch problems earlier, which is likely to result in better attempts at prevention.
Hearing loss affects roughly 17 percent of the adult population in the United States, and while some of it is the natural result of aging, some could have been prevented with knowledge and better practices. From wearing ear protection to drinking red wine, preventing hearing loss is mostly about being informed and following through on what you know.