Taking care of your hearing health can help stave off early hearing loss. When we think of common causes of hearing loss, the first things that come to mind are likely to be extremely loud noise exposure and aging. A few less-discussed habits include but are not limited to:
- Excessive headphone usage
- Ignoring infections
- Cleaning ears with cotton swabs
Let’s look at how these habits can negatively impact your hearing.
Excessive Headphone Usage
Loud noise can damage the small hair cells in the inner ear. The small hair cells are responsible for transmitting noise to the brain and, when damaged, become unable to do so. Headphones deliver sound directly into the ear canal and can be responsible for permanent hearing damage.
The Centers for Disease Control lists the decibel threshold for hearing damage as 70 decibels over a prolonged period of time or over 120 decibels instantly. Audio devices connected to headphones can emit volume levels between 78 and 136 decibels, or well within the range for hearing damage.
Lowering the volume and usage time of your headphones will help prevent hearing damage from excessive noise exposure.
Left untreated, some bacterial and viral infections can damage the hair cells in the inner ear and lead to hearing loss. Some infections to watch out for include but are not limited to:
- Ear infections
- Congenital cytomegalovirus
Keeping an eye on hearing during and after a bacterial or viral infection can help prevent hearing damage before it progresses. If you are concerned that an infection may interfere with your hearing, make an appointment with an audiologist for a hearing test.
Cleaning Ears With Cotton Swabs
It has been a well-documented fact for years that cleaning your ears with cotton swabs can cause damage to the eardrum and lead to potential hearing loss. Regardless of this fact, it is still very common for people to clean their ears with cotton swabs.
A survey of university students found that “Of the 206 participants that responded, 98% engaged in self-ear cleaning, with 75% indicating that it was beneficial. The commonest method (79.6%) is the use of cotton buds, with an associated injury rate of 2.4%.”
Although cotton swabs might feel soft to the touch, they can cause immediate and permanent damage to the ears. Ear wax is responsible for moisturizing the ear canal and preventing infection. In most cases, ear wax does not need to be removed, but excess wax can be removed by a medical professional.
Contact LeMay Hearing & Balance today to speak to one of our hearing specialists about protecting your hearing health.