Littleton patients experience hearing loss for several reasons. Some causes of hearing loss are natural, such as the aging process—but many of them are completely preventable. By protecting your hearing, you can prevent hearing loss caused by exposure to loud noise, untreated illnesses, preventable diseases, ear injuries, head or neck trauma and ototoxic medications.
Protection from Noise-Induced Hearing Loss
Noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) is the number one cause of impaired hearing in Littleton and is responsible for about 1 in 4 cases of hearing loss. The good news is that NIHL is entirely preventable by using proper protection in situations where noise can potentially damage your ears. Generally, the threshold for potentially damaging sound is 85 decibels (dB), which can cause permanent hearing loss in just eight hours of exposure. If you’re unsure of how loud your surrounding environment is, there are several tools—including noise meters and smartphone apps—that can measure sound in decibels.
The best way to protect your hearing from NIHL is to use quality ear protection such as earplugs or earmuffs anytime you might be exposed to loud noise. This means you should always have a pair of earplugs handy and ready to use. For top-notch protection from loud sounds, many people opt for custom earplugs.
Hearing Loss from Infection or Disease
Many health conditions can cause hearing loss, and some of them are entirely avoidable. The list of potentially ototoxic diseases and illnesses that can be prevented includes measles, mumps, rubella, whooping cough, syphilis and meningitis. You can prevent most of these conditions by getting vaccinated, using protection if you are sexually active and seeking medical attention immediately if you’re concerned about your health.
Hearing Loss from Ototoxic Medications
Some over-the-counter and prescription medications are known to be ototoxic, or harmful to your ears. The side effects of ototoxic medications may include hearing loss or tinnitus. Some of the most common medications that potentially damage hearing include certain chemotherapy drugs, diuretics, antibiotics and salicylate painkillers such as aspirin. Check with your doctor about any medication’s side effects before use, and see an audiologist as soon as possible if you notice changes in your hearing after starting a new drug.
Hearing Loss from Injury or Trauma
Your auditory system is very precise and complex, so ear, head and neck trauma can sometimes knock your hearing system out of balance permanently. While injuries aren’t always preventable, there are plenty of precautions you can take to protect your hearing. Always avoid putting foreign objects (including cotton swabs) in your ears, use custom swimmer’s earplugs to prevent ear infections, wear your seatbelt, use protective gear during physical activities and contact sports, and avoid situations that increase your likelihood of injury, such as climbing on the top rung of a ladder to replace a light bulb.