Hearing loss cannot be reversed: there is no way to revitalize or “fix” damaged hair cells in the cochlea. The majority of hearing losses are irreversible and permanent. However, certain types of hearing loss can be prevented by planning in advance and taking precautions. By following these tips, you can reduce the odds of permanently damaging your hearing.
How To Protect Your Hearing from Loud Noise
The most common cause of hearing loss is exposure to noise. Fortunately, this type is also easily preventable.
Hearing protection is the most effective way to prevent noise-induced hearing loss.
Whether you’re at home, on the job or enjoying a favorite activity, when noise levels exceed safety thresholds, be sure to wear earplugs. These will protect your hearing during concerts and sporting events, while riding a motorcycle or snowmobile, when using power tools, and while mowing the lawn.
Other tips for protecting your hearing from excessive noise include turning down the volume when listening to music or television, limiting the number of noisy appliances running at any given time, and buying quieter products.
Protecting Your Hearing From Illness and Disease
Many illnesses and diseases contribute to hearing loss. Heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes interfere with the supply of blood flowing to the ears. Viruses such as measles, mumps, rubella and whooping cough can cause auditory nerve damage, as can bacterial infections like meningitis and syphilis. Other medical conditions that affect hearing include otosclerosis, Meniere’s disease, sexually transmitted diseases and tumors. The best preventive medicine is to make sure your child is up to date on his or her vaccinations. If sexually active, use protection to prevent STDs. And any time you are experiencing a serious medical condition, seek treatment as soon as possible.
Preventing Ototoxic Drug Reactions
Some medications are considered ototoxic, that is, they can damage the sensory cells that enable hearing. These include certain antibiotics and chemotherapy drugs, salicylate pain relievers, quinine and diuretics. Be sure to take medications only as directed by your physician, and report any side effects immediately.
Protection from Injury and Trauma
Accidents are, by their very nature, difficult to prevent. But there are steps you can take to reduce the odds of suffering physical trauma that could affect your hearing. When driving or riding in a car, always wear a seat belt. When riding a bicycle or motorcycle or participating in a contact sport such as football, wear a helmet. And refrain from taking risks that might lead to injury (e.g., standing on the top rung of a ladder).