Family Health Take These Steps to Prevent Hearing Loss By Primary Care, September 25, 2017 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. If you’re 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. Find a UPMC primary care physician by visiting the UPMC Primary Care website or by calling 1-855-676-UPMCPCP (8762-727). Causes of Hearing Loss Exposure to excessive noise levels — 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 — 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. RELATED: Signs Your Hearing Aids May Need Adjusted Preventing Hearing Loss Be Alert to Signs of Hearing Loss There are ways to tell if you have been exposed to hazardous noise. Do you notice ringing or buzzing in your ears? Do you hear people talking but have a hard time understanding what they’re saying? Do your ears feel “full” after you leave a noisy area? What You Can Do to Protect Your Hearing When 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. You can help protect your hearing by taking a few simple steps in your day-to-day life: Don’t crank up your music to a high volume. Limit the amount of time that you use headphones or earbuds. Talk to your doctor about earwax. Wax build-up can make hearing more difficult. Do not use a cotton swab to clean inside your ears. “You can push the wax closer to the eardrum and cause damage,” says David Harinstein, MD, of HealthFirst Medical Associates-UPMC. Quit smoking. Recent studies show smokers are 70 percent more likely to have some form of hearing loss. RELATED: How to Properly Clean Your Ears If you have concerns about your hearing, talk to your primary care doctor. Find a UPMC primary care physician by visiting the UPMC Primary Care website or by calling 1-855-676-UPMCPCP (7652-727).