BENGALURU: The ear is an organ that is susceptible to deterioration with age like any other organ in the body. While there is no specific cause that points to loss of hearing. Genetic factors play a large role in determining how likely a person is to lose their hearing, over time. As time takes its toll on the body, other bad habits such as picking ears with the nails and listening to music at high volumes contribute to loss in hearing capacity. The ear contains little hair-like structures that help transfer sound information. Any damage caused to these structures or the nerve cells is irreversible and leads to hearing loss.
Hearing aids are useful tools that restore the path through which sound signals are converted into nerve impulses. While hearing aids have helped many experience sound again, these devices are expensive and can cause infections if not maintained properly.
Impairment in hearing is an inevitable outcome of the continuous wear and tear of the ears. While the damage that has already occurred cannot be reversed, it can be stopped from worsening if the aforementioned steps are followed. It might feel difficult to bring about these changes in lifestyle but the benefits that come out of it are not limited to the ears alone. Loud noises are known to affect mood negatively, and removing this irritant stimulus from life will help bring in peace of mind and a greater sense of well-being. Regular visits to an ENT specialist and a well followed ear-care plan will help ensure that the ears run at their maximum potential for as long as possible.
Give Up Smoking
Smoking not only causes lung cancer, research has also indicated a link between smoking and early loss in hearing. The nicotine in cigarettes constricts blood vessels and interferes with neurotransmitters in one’s ears. The hearing loss that happens as a result of smoking cannot be reversed, however by quitting, one can prevent further damage to the ears.
Protect the ear from loud noises
One can carry a pair of earmuffs or earprotectors in case one is stuck in situations that are difficult to get out of, such as a noisy traffic jam. Turn down the volume of the television set or radio set in the car. Loud music in confined spaces is harmful to the ears. If one has a noisy workplace, consider a change in job or talk to the manager on ways to protect the employees from ear damage
Avoid introducing foreign objects into the ears
It has become very common to see people travel with earphones plugged and loud music blasting into the ears. Each time one wears earphones or introduces foreign objects into the ears, the buds push wax further inside. Many hearing problems that develop are associated with a buildup of ear-wax deep within the ears. Headphones can be worn in place of earphones. The same applies to ear buds as well. Contrary to popular belief, ears do not have to be cleaned with earbuds and are capable of self-cleaning.
Protect the head
Hearing loss is a very common side effect of head injuries. One must take the necessary safety precautions while on the road, such as wearing helmets or securing oneself with a seatbelt. Be aware of sudden changes in air pressure as this can affect the eardrums.
Excessive use of mobile handsets
This can increase a risk of hearing loss in susceptible individuals .In case one notices the handset warming up, you could have been using your phone for an excessive duration - time for you to shift to using your phone on hands-free.
Exercise and diet
Cardio in particular is good because it encourages blood flow towards the ears. Jogging, walking, swimming and skipping are good examples of cardio exercises. Caffeine, salt and sodium, if taken in excess, have overall bad effects on health. Mineral-rich fruits and vegetables such as banana, peanuts, spinach contribute to good ear health.
- Dr Harihara Murthy, Senior Consultant Department Of ENT (Head & Neck ,Endoscopic Surgeries), Apollo Spectra