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50+: Live Better, Longer

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You can prevent some types of hearing loss.

Preventing noise-related hearing loss

Being exposed to loud noise over and over is one of the most common causes of permanent hearing loss. It usually develops slowly and without pain or other symptoms. You may not notice that you have hearing loss until it is severe.

Be sure your child has regular hearing exams and follows the suggestions below to prevent hearing loss.

Steps you can take to lower your risk of noise-induced hearing loss include the following:

  • Be aware of and avoid harmful noise. You can be exposed to harmful noise at work, at home, and in many other settings. Know what kinds of situations can cause harmful noise levels. To learn more about hearing protection in workplaces in the United States, contact the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
  • Use hearing protectors. If you know you are going to be around harmful noise, wear hearing protectors, such as earplugs or earmuffs.
  • Control the volume when you can. Reduce the noise in your life by turning down the volume on the stereo, TV, or car radio, and especially on personal listening devices with earphones or ear buds.
  • Don't wait to protect yourself. After noise-related damage to the ear is done, it cannot be reversed. But if you already have some noise-related hearing loss, it is not too late to prevent further damage and preserve the hearing that you still have.

Preventing other causes of hearing loss

To lower your risk of other types of hearing loss:

  • Never stick a cotton swab, hairpin, or other object in your ear to try to remove earwax or to scratch your ear. The best way to prevent earwax problems is to leave earwax alone. For information on how to remove hardened wax, see the topic Earwax.
  • During air travel, swallow and yawn frequently when the plane is landing. If you have an upper respiratory problem (such as a cold, the flu, or a sinus infection), take a decongestant a few hours before landing or use a decongestant spray just before landing.
  • Stop smoking. You are more likely to have hearing loss if you smoke.
  • Make sure your child receives all the recommended immunizations to protect against pneumococcal disease, meningitis, and other conditions that can cause hearing problems. For more information, see the topic Immunizations.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: November 14, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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