Reducing Your Risk of Hearing Loss
by Laurie B. Rosenblum, MPH
There is currently no effective way to prevent congenital or genetic hearing loss. However, hearing screening for newborns can help ensure that hearing loss in young babies is detected and when possible, treated at the earliest possible stage.
Certain types of hearing loss may be prevented with the following:
Avoid Loud Noises
Wear ear protection when you will be exposed to loud noises.
Wear Head Protection
Wear head protection when you are participating in activities that could result in head injury.
If you are pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant, talk to your doctor about prenatal care that may protect your baby from hearing loss.
Avoid Certain Medications
Certain medications may contribute to hearing loss. For example, some antibiotics and chemotherapy drugs can damage the ear. High doses of aspirin can also increase the risk of temporary hearing loss or ringing in the ear. Talk to your doctor if you are taking any of these medications.
Smoke may act as a toxin, harm blood flow to the cochlea, or change blood consistency. Decreasing or quitting smoking may prevent or delay age-related hearing loss.
Prevent Ear Infections
Washing your hands often can help prevent colds and flu, which can increase the risk of ear infections and lead to long-term hearing loss. This is especially important for children.
Treat or Prevent Other Medical Conditions
A number of medical conditions can lead to hearing loss, especially if they are not treated properly. This is particularly true for ear infections, which occur often in children. But it is also true for cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and illnesses such as meningitis.
Address Nutritional Deficiencies
It may be possible to slow age-related hearing loss in elderly persons through proper nutrition and dietary changes.
Get All Appropriate Immunizations
This is especially important for children and pregnant women given the increased risk that infectious diseases such as rubella, measles, and mumps can lead to hearing loss. People at risk for the flu should get a flu shot each year to prevent respiratory infections that could lead to ear infection and hearing loss.
Conductive hearing loss. ENT Health—American Academy of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery website. Available at: https://www.enthealth.org/conditions/conductive-hearing-loss. Accessed August 17, 2017.
Noise-induced hearing loss. National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) website. Available at: https://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/noise-induced-hearing-loss. Updated May 15, 2015. Accessed August 17, 2017.
Palmer KT, Griffin MJ, Syddall HE, Coggon D. Cigarette smoking, occupational exposure to noise, and self reported hearing difficulties. Occup Environ Med. 2004;61(4):340-344.
1/24/2007 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T921643/Presbycusis: Durga J, Verhoef P, Anteunis LJ, Schouten E, Kok FJ. Effects of folic acid supplementation on hearing in older adults: a randomized, controlled trial. Ann Int Med. 2007;146(1):1-9.
Last reviewed September 2017 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Michael Woods, MD, FAAP
Last Updated: 11/8/2017
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