The sense of hearing diminishes as we age. And I’m not talking about baby boomers and beyond. During early adulthood is when we start losing ultra-high-frequency sounds which are not important for daily communication. Sounds that are audible during our teenage years, slowly diminish as we age. A while back, I read about a system that was installed in a shopping mall that emitted high-frequency sounds. This device helped to keep teenagers away from certain stores while adult shoppers were oblivious to the annoying clatter.
Age is a factor that we have no control over just like our genetic makeup. Hearing loss can be passed down from generation to generation. When you have family members with hearing loss, it puts you at greater risk for changes in hearing.
There are many drugs that can do damage the auditory system. Aspirin in large doses can affect hearing but in most cases, hearing returns when the regiment ends. Hearing loss is a known side effect of Viagra, Cialis, and similar drugs for erectile dysfunction. A host of chemotherapy drugs and the family of mycin drugs are toxic to the ear. While it may not always be possible to take a different drug, you should talk to your health care provider about how these may impact your hearing.
There are other health-related conditions that can affect the health of your ears. A head injury may do damage to the auditory system. Diseases such as diabetes, heart and kidney disease increase the risk of hearing loss. Infection is another possible cause that can be linked to a change in hearing.
The one modifiable risk is noise exposure. It’s been said many times that the use of earplugs can prevent damage to the ears. Turn down the volume of music, wear ear protection when you use power tools or mow the lawn. There is really no excuse not to. If listening to speech or music is important, filtered earplugs can be custom made or purchased over the counter. When inserted properly, noise is reduced and speech is audible. Smoking, in combination with loud music or noise also increases your risk of hearing loss.
Without having a crystal ball, it’s pretty hard to predict the future. When hearing changes, it is usually due to a combination of conditions or circumstances. Remember that the one thing that you can do to prevent hearing loss is to avoid excessive noise or loud music and to always use ear protection. When the time is right, schedule an appointment with an Audiologist. We’re here to help you.