Hearing and auditory health impact many facets of your life. Fortunately, there are things you can do to protect your hearing and promote healthy ears. Following these tips is a great place to start.
Your risk of developing hearing loss increases with age. About one-third of people aged 60 and older have hearing loss, and half of all seniors over the age of 85 have hearing problems. With age, changes occur within structures in the ears. These changes make it difficult for our brains to interpret sound from the vibrations within the ear. Repeated exposure to loud noise can accelerate the problem, causing hearing loss symptoms to start at an early age. Diabetes, poor circulation and some medications can also increase the risk of hearing loss.
Age-related hearing loss is usually a progressive condition, meaning it gets worse over time. Symptoms often begin subtly and then become more and more noticeable. Some signs of hearing loss include:
Not being able to hear clearly can be more than just inconvenient. Difficulty hearing can actually affect your emotional and mental health. Seniors with hearing loss are more likely to develop dementia and experience age-related declines in memory and concentration at a faster rate than those who don’t have the condition. In addition, hearing problems can lead to embarrassment and low self-esteem. They can cause older adults to withdraw from friends and family and raise the risk of depression.
Earwax serves as natural protection for the ears, but it can interfere with hearing in some people. If earwax builds up within the ear canal, it may harden and become impacted. This can make it more difficult for the ears to detect vibrations that the brain converts into sound. People over the age of 55 are more likely to develop earwax blockages than younger adults, especially if they wear hearing aids.
Trying to remove earwax with cotton swabs can do more harm than good. Not only can they push earwax further into the ear, but they can also cause injury, leading to inflammation that worsens hearing. If you think earwax may be contributing to hearing problems, talk to your medical provider about the problem. They may recommend that you use drops to dissolve earwax or remove excess earwax for you in the office. Residents of Bethesda Gardens senior living community can arrange for transportation to scheduled appointments, making it easy to visit your healthcare provider to have your ears checked.
No matter how old you are, you can take steps to protect your hearing. Wear earplugs when you’re working with noisy tools, such as drills or lawn mowers, or attending noisy events, such as concerts. Set the volume on the radio and TV no louder than the point where you can hear clearly. Take breaks from loud noise by going outside or doing a different activity.
It isn’t true that only kids get ear infections. Seniors can also develop them, so it’s important to know the symptoms. Middle ear infections affect the air-filled space behind the eardrum and can cause:
Outer ear infections develop at the start of the ear canal behind the part of the ear you can see. Symptoms include:
Both types of ear infections usually require antibiotic medications taken orally or administered as ear drops. If you experience ear infection symptoms, schedule an appointment with your medical provider.
Although you can’t completely prevent ear infections, you can reduce your risk by wearing earplugs when you swim and take showers. Washing your hands frequently makes you less likely to introduce germs to your ears, as well as to your eyes, nose and mouth.
If you’re struggling with hearing loss, hearing aids can help. There are many different kinds available, so you can find one that fits your budget and works well for you. The first step toward improving your hearing is undergoing a hearing test with a licensed audiologist. The American Academy of Audiology offers a handy search tool to help you find audiologists in Arlington, TX, and elsewhere in the United States. Set up an appointment to find out if you could benefit from a hearing aid. If so, the audiologist will help you select the right one for your needs.