Here’s why you should protect your hearing and how to do it

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 5% of the world’s population needs rehabilitation to help their ‘disabling’ hearing loss. It estimates that by the year 2050, one in every ten people will have disabling hearing loss.

Hearing loss could be due to a number of causes such as genetic, birth complications, diseases, excessive noise exposure and aging. The majority (about 60%) of childhood hearing loss is thought to be preventable. 

In our busy, bustling and often noisy world, protecting our hearing is crucial. It can be impacted by many things—if we are exposed to too much loud music, use unsafe devices, or if ear conditions are not treated properly, it can have negative effects on our hearing. Avoiding noisy places, giving your ears a chance to recover, and making sure you get regular check-ups are all essential when looking after your hearing health.

From getting into good habits and maintaining them, to knowing when to seek help for any changes in hearing—it’s important to learn about ear health and educate your family too. Read on to learn more about how to protect your hearing and good ear health routines.

What is disabling hearing loss?

World Health Organisation (WHO) information suggests around 466 million people globally have disabling hearing loss and out of this number, 34 million are children. But that’s not it. It is estimated that by 2050 over 900 million people will have disabling hearing loss. Disabling hearing loss is hearing loss greater than 40 decibels in the better hearing ear in adults or greater than 30 decibels in the better hearing ear in children.

There are various common ear health conditions, so we must look after our hearing health by getting regular hearing checks and maintaining good habits and routines for life. Here are the answers to some common ear health questions.

Good habits: our 5 tips for good ear health

Get regular ear health checks

Make sure you get regular ear checks, such as hearing tests. You can do a free online hearing test to gauge whether you need a more intensive test. If you have any concerns, make an appointment with your ENT (Ear, Nose, Throat) doctor or an audiologist for a more thorough ear health check-up. Your doctor can also refer you to the best specialist.

Limit loud noise and use earplugs

Avoid loud noise, where you can. According to experts, it’s important to protect your ears when you listen to anything higher than 85 decibels, so standing next to speakers is not advisable. Earplugs are highly recommended for people that regularly attend live music events or are in the music business, and custom-made plugs should be the first choice.

Use safe devices

Experts also recommend noise-cancelling headphones for protecting your ear health. In-ear earbuds can have bad sound leakage, which can result in turning the music up louder. Many music devices now have automatic volume control settings and a general rule of thumb is to stay within 60% of the maximum volume.

Don’t use cotton buds

It’s best not to use cotton buds for cleaning your ears. Inserting foreign objects into the ear canal changes its pH level causing the body to produce more wax, and cotton buds actually push wax down and compact it further into your ear, risking damage. If you find yourself desperate to put things in your ear, you may be suffering from an itchy ear, not excess wax. This should be treated with a cream.

Give your ears a break

The British Tinnitus Association suggests that your ears can manage loud noise better if you give them regular breaks. For example, if you are a noisy place, limit your time there or take regular breaks to help your ears recover. Just like the body, our ears also need time to rest. 

General ear health 

Here are some ear-related conditions to be aware of:

  • A common ear infection is an infection of the middle ear usually caused by bacteria or a virus. It can cause ear pain, or sometimes, hearing loss. It’s usually treated with a course of antibiotics.

  • Otosclerosis is abnormal bone growth inside the ear. It can affect hearing and patients may need a surgical procedure by an ENT consultant.

  • Meniere’s Disease happens when there is excess fluid in the inner ear. The fluid can cause ringing in the ears, dizziness and fluctuating hearing. There’s no known cure yet, but it can be managed more through lifestyle.

  • Tinnitus is best described as buzzing, whistling or clicking sounds in the ear. It can be difficult to sleep with constant ringing in your ears, causing further conditions. It’s one of the most common ear conditions affecting 1 in 10 adults. 

If we protect our hearing now, we will see the real benefits later in life. In need of health insurance? Read more about Generali’s health insurance cover options.