Statistics published by the leading charity Action on Hearing Loss state that 11 million British people (one in six of the population) are living with some degree of impaired hearing. Alarmingly, it predicts that this figure will rocket to 15.6 million people (one in five of the population) by 2035, partially due to bad lifestyle habits. Don’t be a hearing impaired statistic – make sure you protect this valuable sense from avoidable damage.
Plug the decibels
Noise pollution in work, home and leisure environments can be extremely detrimental to your hearing. Prolonged exposure to such things as power tools, lawnmowers, music concerts and even boat engines can damage your eardrums, trigger tinnitus and dull your hearing capacity. Wearing earplugs during such times will limit your risks. Specialist earplugs that cleverly reduce harmful frequencies without diminishing clarity of conversations or deteriorating the quality of more friendly sounds are available at reasonable prices.
Be headphone wise
One of the most common causes of noise-induced hearing loss is loud music, particularly when streamed through headphones. If you’re a headphone user, opt for external on-ear models rather than in-ear ‘plug’ varieties – the latter pose greater risks because of the close proximity of fit to your eardrum. Moderate your headphone time to 60/60 too – never exceed 60% volume, and limit your listening time to a maximum of 60 minutes per day.
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Give your ears a break
If you find yourself in noise polluted environments for long periods of time, step away or escape to quiet corners whenever you can to allow your ears to rest. Several five-minute breaks during a concert will make a big difference. Try to carve out extended quiet time after any long onslaught of noise has ended – specialists suggest that it can take as long as 15 hours for your ears to recover after a loud night out.
Ditch the cotton buds
Cotton buds are commonly used to remove earwax, but are unnecessary and potentially damaging. Your ears are self-cleaning, and wax actually lubricates the skin of the ear canal, providing protection from bacteria, fungi, insects and water. Furthermore, poking anything in your ear canal can scratch or perforate your eardrum. So, if you have moderate earwax, leave it be – it’s working for you. If you suffer from excessive or irritating earwax, it is safer to treat it with over-the-counter liquid formulas rather than dig it out.
Leaving excessive water in your ears after a shower or a swim can encourage bacteria to breed in your ear canal, and potentially compromise your hearing capacity in the long term. So, always be conscious to gently mop up any H2O in your outer ear with a towel, and tease out any waterlog in your inner canal by gently tilting your head to either side.
It is a fact that hearing problems are more likely to occur as we get older. They need to be detected as soon as possible, and definitely not ignored. However, statistically, it takes an average of ten years for most people to address hearing loss. Don’t drag your heels. Make regular appointments to assess your hearing health with your doctor or an audiologist – it is the best way to take positive action if your hearing is flagging in any way.