Like most people, you probably only worry about your hearing when something feels wrong, like when your ears start ringing after a “loud” concert or when you have an earache. But your hearing deserves more attention than that because what you do and don’t do to your ears can have an enormous effect on how healthy they stay.
Here are five common daily activities that might affect/damage your hearing:
Excessive use of headphones or earbuds
Listening to music using your headphones or earbuds is not necessarily unhealthy; it is the prolonged exposure to loud music that can be harmful. Standard headphones and earbuds that don’t completely block the background sound often force users to turn up the music louder, and our ears are not meant to listen to music (or any other sounds) at that level for several hours.
The use of cotton swabs to clean the inside of the ears
Thousands of people seek medical attention every year as a result of cotton-swab-related accidents and injuries. If earwax makes it to the outer part of your ear, obviously, you can clean it up using a swab. But it is not recommended that you go and dig deep in your ears to remove the wax. If you accidentally pushed down earwax using a swab, the hardened wax may cause a blockage, which may eventually lead to infection and/or hearing loss.
Everyone knows that smoking is bad for your health. However, one of its side effects can actually compromise your hearing. The cochlea (a critical part of the hearing system) requires a healthy oxygenated blood circulation for it to work efficiently, and when you smoke tobacco, the flow of blood is being constrained. While a single cigarette may not produce hearing damage permanently, its negative effects can add up overtime.
Excessive intake of pain medication
Certain types of medicine can have an adverse effect on your hearing. Painkillers and other ototoxic drugs may relieve your discomfort in certain situations. However, when you abuse these drugs, they can cause hearing loss as well as other adverse reactions that could be cause for concern. Sometimes, it doesn’t take very long for the unwanted effects to be triggered, particularly if a person has a history of substance abuse. When you take pain relievers, make sure to follow the correct dosage as instructed. If you’re unsure, consult your doctor.
Frequent use of a hairdryer
Many people (especially those with long hair) use their hairdryer at a maximum setting which can be quite loud. Doing this regularly can in fact cause permanent hearing damage. So try to be mindful when using a hair dryer. For example, whenever possible, use the dryer on the “lower” setting.
Special tips for the Southern Tier
Many of our residents love the outdoors, and have to take care of their property using noisy machinery. As we enjoy the final days of semi-summer and mow our lawns for the last few times, are you using hearing protection? Our region is known for spectacular fall foliage, but we know that eventually the red, orange, yellow and brown leaves end up on our lawns… and often we use leaf blowers to clean up the mess. You can hear leaf blowers down the street. For the person operating it, leaf blowers reach dangerous levels. So always use protection. Finally - ATVs, hunting and snow scooters are popular hobbies here. If you are enjoying these activities, take precautions that protect your ears.
Your hearing is precious so don’t take it for granted. Taking good care of your ears can mean a lifetime of good hearing.