5 ways to reduce your chances of hearing loss and tinnitus

Hearing loss might seem like an inevitable part of getting older. While that’s true in some cases, there are ways to take care of your hearing and prevent tinnitus and hearing loss due to loud noises.

It’s never too early to pick up good habits and protect your ears. Read on for 5 ways to get ahead of hearing loss and make sure to spread the word to friends and family.

Turn down the volume

Blasting music at full volume is a fun way to start the morning, do chores, or survive a long train ride. Unfortunately, it’s also a sure-fire way to damage your hearing. Any noise above 85 decibels (dB) can cause hearing loss or other hearing problems, according to the CDC. Listening to music with headphones at full volume reaches 96 to 100 dB, so make sure to turn it down. For an interactive infographic demonstrating the noise level from your fridge to a rock concert, click here.

Enjoy your music- but not too loudly.

Use ear protection

As a rule of thumb, any noise that requires you to raise your voice to speak to another person has the potential to damage your hearing. In some cases, turning down the volume is not an option, for example at concerts, rallys, or in loud work environment around machinery. EarQ estimates 15% of Americans have noise-induced hearing loss due to loud work or leisure environments. The best way to protect yourself in these scenarios is to wear earplugs. They’re affordable and easily accessible at drug stores and supermarkets, or can be custom-fitted by a hearing healthcare provider.

It’s important to use earplugs or protective equipment in loud environments, such as certain workplaces, concerts or fireworks.

Don’t use cotton swabs to clean your ears

Put down the cotton swab, Michigan Medicine’s Dr. David Stutz warns. While it might seem like you’re removing a lot of gunk, the earwax you see on a Q-tip would have come out on its own. As new earwax is produced, old wax is pushed out of the ear, therefore cleaning the ear canal of dust and debris. Using a cotton swab is not only unnecessary, it can also scratch the walls of the ear canal and push the wax in deeper, causing a buildup or damage the eardrum. If you feel buildup in your ear that causes hearing loss, tinnitus or discomfort, it is best to seek medical advice instead of attempting to remove the wax yourself.

Cotton swabs should never be inserted into the ear.

Keep your ears dry

Swimming is a healthy way to get exercise, but it’s important to take precautions for your ears. Excess water remaining in the ear canal can cause bacterial growth and infection, known as swimmer’s ear. The infection usually starts with mild symptoms including redness and minor discomfort. Untreated, it can develop into a more severe infection and cause complications. To prevent swimmer’s ear, make sure to carefully dry your ears with a towel and tilt your head while gently tucking on your outer ear to help trapped water escape.

Speak to a medical professional

It’s important to seek medical help if you notice hearing loss, tinnitus or experience pain,

An annual hearing exam is a good way to monitor your hearing, as hearing loss often develops gradually. Acute signs of hearing damage, like tinnitus or sudden hearing loss, should be checked out by a medical expert specializing in hearing loss.

By implementing regular checkups and our tips, you can reduce your chances of hearing loss and prevent noise-induced tinnitus and other conditions.