Whether you’re in the habit of making New Year’s resolutions or not, consider making hearing health a family priority this year.
1. Resolve to reduce noise-induced hearing loss in your household, beginning with your children or grandchildren. Hearing health experts agree that noise-induced hearing loss is the most common cause of hearing loss in the United States. According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), more than 26 Americans have high frequency hearing loss that may have been caused by exposure to loud sounds at work or play.
If you have young children in the house, talk to them about good hearing health especially as it relates to their individual lifestyles. If they listen to a lot of music on their personal electronic devices, talk to them about the importance of keeping the volume at a safe level. If you’ll be attending an event where you expect loud noises, such as a rock concert or fireworks display, be prepared to model good hearing health by wearing earplugs and encouraging children to wear noise-reducing earmuffs.
2. Resolve to protect your hearing. Don’t use anything sharp, such as hairpins or cotton swabs, to clean the inside of your ears. Instead, rely on a warm washcloth, as most earwax and other debris naturally works itself free of your inner ear canal.
Studies have linked hearing loss to other medical problems, such as heart disease, diabetes and dementia. If you smoke, resolve to quit. If you’re overweight, resolve to lose a few pounds. And if you think your hearing isn’t what it used to be, have a thorough hearing evaluation from an audiologist or hearing health professional. You’ll not only improve your overall health, but your hearing will benefit as well.
3. If you or a loved one are having difficulty hearing, resolve to have a hearing test. Statistics indicate most people who suspect they have a hearing impairment wait an average of seven years before having their hearing tested. Untreated hearing loss is a major cause of depression, anxiety and social isolation; however, those who use hearing aids report better quality of life.
4. If you’re a hearing aid user, resolve to maximize the use of your instruments. Many digital hearing aids not only have memory settings for different hearing situations in your life, but also have myriad accessories that can help you live life to its fullest. Work closely with your hearing aid center to learn the features of your instrument. And, if you experience any discomfort or dissatisfaction, be sure to have the problems resolved immediately. Sometimes all it takes is a simple adjustment or repair to enhance your experience.
5. Resolve to be prepared for hearing health emergencies. Purchase a set of foam earplugs or noise-reducing earmuffs for every member of your family and keep them accessible. Since these products are relatively inexpensive, be sure to keep them on hand at home, in the car, and in any other location where you frequently encounter loud noises when you work or play.
If you are a hearing aid user, be sure to have an ample supply of hearing aid batteries on hand. Create a grab-and-go travel kit with extra batteries, a soft, dry cloth, and plastic baggies. Stash a kit in your luggage and car glove compartment.