Preventive Hearing Care is a Life-long Commitment
Save natural hearing
Hearing is the sense that is all too often taken for granted – until it goes away. Even as the notion of “prevention” is all the rage in health care, preventive hearing care to save natural hearing is not a major concern.
Only when the effects of damage and neglect become noticeable and interfere with their social and professional lives do people despair about what can be done now.
Calling all parents!
Actually, preventive hearing care starts early – before birth.
Expecting moms are warned to stay out of excessive noise, to quit smoking and to avoid people who are obviously ill. Although bugs of any kind can be dangerous for mother and baby, certain types of viruses, like CMV or measles can cause newborn hearing loss and deafness.
After birth, the parents continue to be in charge of the safety and well-being of the child, which includes his/her hearing.
So, how loud is that home stereo? How about taking kids, even infants to loud concerts or other events? I still remember the mom with three small children at a County Fair Hot Rod race. No hearing protection in site for any of them.
Does the child live in a cigarette smoke infested home? Smoke chemicals irritate ear structures. The result may be repeated and even chronic ear infections, which can lead to hearing loss. Are children taught healthy hearing practices by parents who lead by example, such as protecting their own ears when working with power tools or machinery like lawn mowers?
These are only a few examples. Yet, neglecting any of them puts children’s hearing at risk, which will have a significant impact on their education, future and quality of life.
Aging – yet another reason for preventive care
As we age, no body part seems to improve or function better. The same is true for the ears which endure all sorts of wear and tear on a daily basis. All the more reason to give them some rest.
However, rather than being more careful, people tend to be unwilling to dial down on the volume in their often overly loud lives. As the damage to inner ears and hearing nerves continues, sounds of all kinds become increasingly dull and quality of life takes a serious hit.
And so, hearing protection in loud places remains a key factor in preventive hearing care. Download a Sound Meter App that is supported by your smartphone and heed the warning messages. Carry earplugs and know how to install them correctly.
Ask the doctor or pharmacist about the effects of your medications on ears and hearing. Also, continuous use of high-dose over-the-counter arthritis and pain medications is recognized as contributing to hearing loss. This is especially problematic for older people whose doses must be adjusted for age and kidney and liver function.
Provide adequate oxygen levels to the inner ears and hearing nerves by maintaining healthy blood flow. Follow a diet rich in antioxidants and exercise routinely. This might sound trite but fending off heart disease and diabetes – or stabilizing these conditions – also benefits the ears and hearing. Ears love their oxygen and do not thrive on damaged blood vessels and cholesterol plugs.
Other threats to healthy hearing function are stress and sleep apnea. They contribute to heart disease and endanger blood flow to the ears. Less blood means less oxygen. Learn how to manage stress and act on the apnea.
In the end…
Preventive hearing care is indeed a life-long commitment. Hearing keeps us connected to our world – socially, emotionally and professionally. Rather than taking this precious sense for granted and neglecting it, we must tend to it as we do to the rest of our body. Because, in the end, it is all a matter of communication and continued quality of life.
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