by Brent Hearn •
Our sense of hearing can bring pleasure, pain, annoyance, or safety. From the soaring melodies of an orchestral piece to the blaring siren of a house alarm, from a phone notification during a play to the screech of tires in a parking lot, our ears are integral to how most of us process information from the outside world.
With so much responsibility placed on our ears, it’s important that we take good care of them. With that in mind, here are a few tips to keep your sense of hearing in tip-top shape!
Turn Down the Volume
You probably already know that excessive decibel levels—particularly over a sustained period of time—can damage your hearing. But are you doing anything about it? Does your television show need to be that loud? Does your car stereo need to be cranked up to the max?
We all want to enjoy our tasty beats and police procedurals, but doing so at a sensible level now helps to ensure you’ll be able to enjoy the things you love long into the future.
Wear Hearing Protection
Speaking of excessive noise levels, what are you doing to take care of your ears when you’re not the one in control of the volume?
It may seem like an annoyance to pack earplugs for a concert or to strap on hearing protection when you’re using a string trimmer to annihilate unsightly weeds. But when you consider the potential costs of not doing so—including tinnitus (ringing or buzzing in one or both ears) and permanent hearing loss—it’s a small price to pay. Keep hearing protection on hand (in your vehicle, workshop, etc.) at all times, so it’s there when you need it.
Cut the Cotton Swabs
Q: What’s one tip you don’t need for healthy ears?
A: A Q-tip!
Yes, I just made that up, and yes, I’ll see myself out.
You don’t need to clean the wax out of your ears; in fact, your earwax—or cerumen if you want to use fancy doctor talk—is responsible for cleaning your ears! Your body removes excessive earwax without your help; inserting cotton swabs into your ear can push the wax further back or even cause damage to your ear canal or eardrum.
It’s a recurring theme in many of our articles, and for good reason. Exercise may not be a cure-all tip, but it’s at least a “help-most” tip. It’s powerful medicine for so many ailments, and healthy hearing is no exception. Physical activity aids in circulation and blood flow, both of which help keep your ears healthy.
Speaking of recurring themes…
You may be thinking, “but ears aren’t the head holes I’m inhaling from!” Doesn’t matter. Smoking narrows blood vessels and reduces blood oxygen levels. According to one study, tobacco use may reduce the ability to hear.
If you’re thinking about smoking, don’t. If you’re already smoking, take steps to quit. Your ears—along with the rest of your body—will be forever grateful.
Consult the Experts
Have your ears checked during your regular checkup or annual physical. Ask your doctor to refer you to an audiologist for a hearing test. Even if you don’t suspect any hearing loss yet, getting tested will help to establish a baseline to track your results over time.
Lompoc Valley Medical Center: 11 Easy Ways to Protect Your Hearing and Ear Health
CDC: How Do I Prevent Hearing Loss From Loud Noise?
NIH – It’s a Noisy Planet: Why You Shouldn’t Use Cotton Swabs to Clean Your Ears
Cleveland Clinic: Ear Care Tips
PubMed.gov: Effects of Smoking on Eustachian Tube and Hearing
Johns Hopkins Medicine: 4 Ways to Protect Your Hearing