As you age, losing your hearing can take a blow to your self-esteem. Often when one experiences issues with their hearing they remove themselves from conversations and become quite isolated. This can cause depression or anger to take over and have a negative effect on your quality of life. Hearing loss is a common problem caused by noise, aging, disease, and heredity. People with hearing issues may find it hard to have conversations with friends and family. One-third of the people in the United States between the ages of 65 and 75 have some degree of hearing loss. Sadly, you can’t reverse most types of hearing loss. But there are steps you can take to may daily life more manageable and easier.

There are three types of hearing loss. Conductive hearing loss involves the outer or middle ear, sensorineural hearing loss involves the inner ear, and mixed is a combination of the two.

If you are noticing an issue with your or your loved one’s hearing, it’s important to find a hearing health center. Hearing Health USA is an audiologist group that focuses on hearing aids, hearing tests, pediatrics, and tinnitus treatments nationwide. Getting your loved one to a specialist is a great first step since they can often perform hearing tests in their own health centers.

What are the signs and symptoms to look for?

There can be more than one sign or symptom that eludes to a hearing issue. Some signs include softening of speech, difficulty understanding words in a noisy setting, trouble hearing consonants, asking others to speak slower, raising the volume on the TV, and avoiding social settings altogether. It may be hard to know exactly when is the right time to get in contact with your doctor but if you have a sudden loss of hearing, especially in one ear, you should make an appointment immediately. It is also important to speak up and let your general practitioner know if your hearing loss is making day to day life harder for you.

How does hearing loss happen?

There can be plenty of reasons why you may be losing your hearing and not all of them have to do with aging. Any exposure to loud noises like at a rock concert can cause damage to your inner ear. Essentially the loud noise will have caused wear and tear on your nerve cells. This type of damage will cause electrical signals to not be transmitted properly. For example, a higher pitch tone may become inaudible for you.

Even though we are told not to put anything around our ears, many of us do so anyway. The wax build-up can attribute to hearing loss by blocking the ear canal and stopping conduction waves. There are special candles and liquids to remove ear wax. Along with loud noises, a sudden change in pressure like flying or scuba diving can also cause the eardrum to rupture. Also, using a cotton-tipped swab may puncture the eardrum.

Protect those ears!

If you are worried about your ears you can try to take preventative measures. Protecting your ears is a great step towards keeping yourself healthy. If you know you will be around loud noises bring some earplugs. It is also a good idea to limit the amount of time you are exposed to damaging noise. As you would your early physical or dental check-up it is important to have your ears annually tested. Regular tests will be able to spot a discrepancy in your charts. Also, while going snowmobiling or hunting might sound fun at the time it is a good idea to try and avoid recreational risks. Over time these fun activities can do some damage to your ears. If you must take part, be sure to use the proper safety equipment.