Age-related hearing loss happens to many of us as we get older. Causes include changes in the inner ear, middle ear, or along the nerve pathways to the brain. Some medical conditions and medicines can also play a role in hearing loss.\nIf you\u2019re regularly exposed to loud sound, however, you can begin to experience hearing loss at a younger age. Fortunately, you can take simple steps to protect your hearing while you’re young.\nFind a UPMC primary care physician by visiting the UPMC Primary Care website or by calling 1-855-676-UPMCPCP (8762-727).\nCauses of Hearing Loss\nExposure to excessive noise levels \u2014 using power tools without protection, attending loud concerts or sporting events, turning up the volume on your headphones or earbuds, or riding on or driving a motorcycle \u2014 can put you at risk for hearing damage. And occupational hearing loss is one of the most common work-related health issues in the United States.\nRELATED: Signs Your Hearing Aids May Need Adjusted\nPreventing Hearing Loss\nBe Alert to Signs of Hearing Loss\nThere are ways to tell if you have been exposed to hazardous noise.\n\nDo you notice ringing or buzzing in your ears?\nDo you hear people talking but have a hard time understanding what they\u2019re saying?\nDo your ears feel \u201cfull\u201d after you leave a noisy area?\n\nWhat You Can Do to Protect Your Hearing\nWhen you are exposed to excessive noise, wear hearing protection. Earplugs and noise-blocking headphones help reduce the amount of sound reaching your ears. And try to limit the amount of time you are exposed to noise.\nYou can help protect your hearing by taking a few simple steps in your day-to-day life:\n\nDon\u2019t crank up your music to a high volume.\nLimit the amount of time that you use headphones or earbuds.\nTalk to your doctor about earwax. Wax build-up can make hearing more difficult.\nDo not use a cotton swab to clean inside your ears. \u201cYou can push the wax closer to the eardrum and cause damage,\u201d says David Harinstein, MD, of HealthFirst Medical Associates-UPMC.\nQuit smoking. Recent studies show smokers are 70 percent more likely to have some form of hearing loss.\n\nRELATED: How to Properly Clean Your Ears\nIf you have concerns about your hearing, talk to your primary care doctor.\nFind a UPMC primary care physician by visiting the UPMC Primary Care website or by calling 1-855-676-UPMCPCP (7652-727).