It is a good news that many of the cases of hearing loss, that is, the temporary or permanent inability to hear, is preventable. It is upto the person whether he should follow the preventive measures for keeping hearing loss at bay. Experts have agreed upon the maximum volume that a person should be exposed to so as to avoid hearing impairment to be 80-85 dB (decibels). If exposed to higher volumes, a person’s hearing ability starts to deteriorate over time, gradually resulting in deafness.
In most of the cases, hearing loss is caused by a damage in the inner ear, and sadly, this is caused by continuous and unchecked exposure to loud noise. Statistics show that generally the sufferers of hearing impairment are from the work or the educational fields. Any hearing loss problems that are caused by noise, known as the NIHL or Noise-Induced Hearing Loss, are usually irreversible. Another type of hearing loss is the TIHL or the Tobacco-Induced Hearing Loss, in which people who smoke regularly are vulnerable to hearing impairment. It is better to prevent them rather than going for a hearing loss treatment.
Prevention of hearing loss should begin by minimizing the exposure to high decibels of sound (termed as noise). A person should not be vulnerable to loudspeakers, loud music or noisy machines for an overly long period of time. Effective preventive measures include turning down the music volume and also reducing the time dedicated to listening to music per day, using earplugs or other ear protectors while in a noisy environment or working with noisy machines like drillers, chainsaws, etc., using noise-cancelling headphones that allows one to listen clearly to low sound music, standing away from loudspeakers or avoiding staying too long in such environments, following the 60:60 rule, that is, to listen to music at 60% of the maximum volume of the music device for not more than 60 minutes a day and to stop smoking or at least reduce it. It is upto you to safeguard yourselves from exposures to noise as nobody else would care to turn down their cacophony for you.
There are some other prevention strategies like immunization against rubella virus to prevent congenital rubella syndrome (which causes sensorineural deafness) and immunization against bacteria like H. influenza and S. pneumoniae to prevent meningitis (which results in the inability to tolerate light or loud noises). The World Health Organisation also recommends immunization against measles and mumps, prevention of premature birth and avoiding certain medications. Also, medical practitioners recommend avoiding ototoxic drugs like aspirin and certain antibiotics which may cause hearing impairment. One should also have healthy food habits by maintaining a balanced diet containing all the essential nutrients, vitamins and minerals. Getting one’s blood pressure checked regularly and then consulting with a doctor can also prevent hearing disorders. Recently, research is being carried out about the use of antioxidants for the prevention of hearing loss, particularly for those who could not avoid exposure to high decibels, for example, the soldiers working in the military areas and the factory workers.
There are several organisations or institutions that arrange programmes to educate specific groups like children, workers and youngsters about the causes of hearing loss and their preventive measures. These educating bodies make people aware of the habits that are harmful for one’s ear, and some even offer screening tests regularly to check the health of their ears. Some common habits that one should immediately stop from doing are listening to high volumes for an alarmingly high time without a break, regularly attending noisy clubs, disco bars and rock concerts, lighting very loud and explosive firecrackers, too much shouting, exposure in high volumes to radio and television for very long hours and not giving time to recover from an high-decibel exposure. These habits if repeated, will gradually weaken the hearing abilities and also show certain signs like Tinnitus or ringing in the ears, dull hearing, pain in the ears, and the like.
Hearing loss treatment should be the last option for any person, as prevention is always better than cure. However, if one faces the above mentioned symptoms of hearing loss, then one should not delay in getting their ears checked and follow the treatments as suggested by audiologists. Nowadays, with the advancement of technology hearing loss treatment have become quite hassle-free and can completely or partially cure hearing impairment.