A lot can be said about our ears. These amazing organs are a key part of our lives: they allow us to easily communicate, can alert us to danger, and even bring us joy. Anyone lucky enough to have hearing should do everything they can to preserve it.
Understanding Hearing Loss
There are 3 kinds of hearing loss: conductive (such as a physical obstruction), Sensorineural (like damage to the cells or nerves), and Mixed hearing loss (a mix of the two). According to WebMD, the two most common reasons for hearing loss are 1) Too much loud noise and 2) Age.
As you get older, your ears naturally have more trouble picking up sound vibrations due to cell breakdown. It’s totally normal to experience some hearing loss. If you spent your youth going to concerts or working in a loud environment, the effects of noise may accelerate your hearing loss.
Severe hearing loss can not only make it harder to hear, it can have hefty mental and physical health effects as well. Those who experience severe hearing loss tend to isolate themselves by avoiding social gatherings and busy locations. They may also find it harder to exercise, since going outdoors requires a level of awareness that their ears can no longer provide.
Other symptoms of severe hearing loss include:
- Pain in one or both ears
- Tinnitus (ear ringing)
- Pressure in your ears
- Dizziness or vertigo
If you notice your TV volume needs to be louder than it used to be, or you’re needing to ask people around you to repeat themselves, it may be time to see your doctor. Catching hearing loss early will help you understand your needs and prevent further deterioration. Many people have difficulty taking this step due to embarrassment or pride, but it’s very important to be your own advocate and recognize when your hearing is getting worse. There is no shame in getting your hearing tested and speaking with your doctor about treatment.
Tips to Prevent Hearing Loss
While you can’t stop aging, there are a few things you can do to keep your age-related hearing loss from getting worse.
First, make sure you’re avoiding too much noise! Bring earplugs when you’re going to a loud environment, like a concert or car/motorcycle race, or while you work with power tools. There are lots of discrete and effective earplugs on the market now that work wonders for your ears.
Make sure you’re limiting the time you’re around loud noises when they aren’t planned. Find yourself next to a jackhammer on the street or near a line of emergency vehicles? Try to duck into a coffee shop or other building to help muffle the sound. Limit your exposure to direct, loud noises as much as you can. If you find yourself in loud spaces often, carrying earplugs on your keychain is a good idea.
Research shows that smoking may actually be linked to hearing loss. If you use tobacco, consider quitting to help prevent hearing loss.
Be sure to remove earwax regularly and safely. Cotton swabs, though tempting, are not a good way to clear your ears. Purchase an at-home irrigation kit to soften wax and clean out your ears. Also, check your medications to see if they have any side effects that may your hearing.
Treatment and Coverage
If your hearing loss is at the stage where treatment is required, there are many options for you. First, your doctor will want to perform a hearing test to find out what degree of hearing loss you have. Then, they’ll determine if it is Conductive, Sensorineural, or Mixed hearing loss. Once they have those answers, they may suggest you get hearing aids. There are many different types of aids that can be programmed to amplify the sounds you have the hardest time hearing. You can also get removable aids or implants, depending on what/where your damage is.
Since some degree of hearing loss is inevitable as you age, it’s important to have medical coverage for this type of treatment. Did you know Medicare alone does not cover these costs? You’ll want to invest in a Dental, Vision, and Hearing plan, also called a “DVH plan”. United Medicare Advisors can show you how to procure this coverage. Simply give us a call at 855-655-9200 to get the process started.