President's Prescription: Hearing

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - Many of us will experience some degree of hearing loss as time goes by. But not every form of hearing loss as we age is because of our age. With the explosive popularity of portable devices and headphones, it has become so important for younger people to learn how to hold on to what they hear.

That's the focus this time for Dr. Tedd Mitchell. He is the President of the Texas Tech Health Sciences Center.

Reading glasses, stiff joints and hearing loss are all part of aging aren't they? Well not necessarily. One of the most common forms of hearing loss is actually caused by exposure to loud noises, and because of this, it is avoidable. It's particularly important for young people to know the potential damaging effects of loud noise. Here are some ways to save your ears, and slow the progression of hearing loss if it's already started.

Avoid excessive noise. You should never have to shout over a noise to have a conversation. Some engines, power tools and music players are simply too loud and you should limit how long you are exposed to them.

Wear ear protection. Earplugs and earmuffs both reduce sounds by up to 30 decibels and could save your hearing if you must expose your ears to loud sounds every day.

Don't smoke. Hearing loss is just another risk linked to smoking tobacco products. Since hearing is one of the fundamental experiences of life, saving your ears is a great reason to quit. Avoid breathing in secondhand smoke as it carries a similar risk.

Remove earwax. Earwax can build up and muffle sound. Cotton swabs push wax even deeper in your ear canal, so you should use an at-home irrigation kit instead to soften and remove wax.

Get tested. If you're losing your hearing, your doctor can advise you on how to preserve what hearing you have. Also, sudden loss of hearing can indicate a serious medical condition and should be evaluated carefully.

Remember this, hearing loss can not only impact the way you interact with your friends and family, it can actually affect if you can live independently because if can impact things like driving a car. So while you are young, protect your hearing. If you are older or have a hearing problem, get your hearing checked. There may be things that can be done.

For maintaining good health, I'm Dr. Tedd Mitchell.

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