When it comes to your hearing, preserving what you have is critical. If you don’t take protective measures, declines are irreversible without hearing aids. No medication restores lost hearing.
Many of us jeopardize our ability to hear. More than 6 million people use hearing aids, according to Brenda Battat, executive director of the Hearing Loss Association of America. She adds that about 80 percent of those who could benefit from hearing aids don’t get them.
To preserve your hearing, treat your eardrums as precious instruments. Don’t subject them to excessively loud noises. Turning up the volume of music that plays on plug-in headphones poses risks. It’s better to use foam or rubber headphones that rest against your ears, and keep the volume at lower settings.
If ambient noise in your workplace tends toward the extreme—from loud drills in a dentist’s office to power tools at a construction site—then you may want to use earplugs or suggest ways your employer can reduce the decibel level.
Clear away the earwax
As summer approaches, you may spend more time diving into swimming pools, lakes or the ocean. Submerging your head in water is one of many activities that can trigger painful battles with earwax.
If you’re prone to getting middle ear infections or you have a hole in the eardrum, notify your doctor if you suspect wax buildup. Otherwise, over-the-counter products can help break up softer types of wax. They usually involve irrigation with water along with a few drops of hydrogen peroxide or a similar chemical. If you can’t get to a pharmacy for an earwax removal kit, try a few droplets of baby oil in the ear canal.
See your primary care doctor if your do-it-yourself attempts don’t work. Some wax is particularly hard to dislodge and requires more aggressive treatment.