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Protect your ears

Protect your ears
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You know a leaf blower can do a number on your hearing or a loud rock concert can make your ears ring for days. But there are all sorts of surprising everyday items that can have an impact on your hearing, and you don’t want to wait until you’re collecting Social Security to take action – Millennials are losing their hearing, too. From your kitchen to your yard, your medicines to your health conditions, here are things that affect your ears. Take a listen.

Blood-related conditions

Blood-related conditions
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Types 1 and 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol affect almost every cell in the body – including the ears. Vibrations from tiny hair cells in your ears send your brain messages about what you’re hearing, but those cells need proper blood flow. “All those hair cells are fed nutrients by tiny little capillaries,” says audiologist Craig A. Kasper. “If there’s any problem with blood flow, you’re not going to get those hair cells to grow.” People who have diabetes, for instance, are twice as likely to experience hearing loss than the rest of the population, he says.

Blow-dryers

Blow-dryers
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A hairdryer near your head could be putting out 85 or more decibels of noise. Long or repeated exposure to sounds at or above 85 dB is when people are at risk of hearing loss, says the US National Institutes of Health. You’d probably have to dry your hair for eight hours straight before it did any damage, but that loud part of your beauty regime could add up over time, says clinical audiologist Kit Frank. “The more you use [blow-dryers] and the longer you use them, the more likely you are to have damage,” she says. “It might not do immediate damage, but over time it will.”

Loud music

Loud music
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You know what it was like when you came home after a loud concert: The ringing in your ears was a sure sign the music was too loud. But even the tunes coming through your headphones could damage your ears. Earbuds are typically more damaging than over-the-ear headphones because they rest deeper in your ear canal, says Frank. And if you crank up the volume to drown out the noise around you, things get even riskier, says Kasper. “You typically have to compete with the environmental noise to hear the music,” he says. “That’s when it becomes dangerous.” Sticking with volume at or below 60 per cent will keep the sound at a safe level, he says. If you can’t hear at that volume, buy sound-blocking headphones to cut out the outside noise.

Not convinced? Huh? What? Check out this guide to keeping your hearing.

Skipping your annual check-up

Skipping your annual check-up
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Most hearing loss comes from gradual damage to your inner ear, but blockages are totally treatable. During your annual visit to your GP, your doctor should check the inside of your ears for wax build-up. Skip that check-up and you might end up with clogged earwax muffling your hearing, says Frank. But you might also get stuffed-up ears after a specific event, says Kasper. “It could be someone has a history of sinus infections or allergies, or just took multiple plane rides and their ears are clogged,” he says. “It makes us feel like we’re underwater.”

Prescriptions

Prescriptions
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Hearing loss could be a side effect of your medication. Some diuretics for heart disease, chemotherapy and antibiotics (especially gentamicin, neomycin, and others in the -mycin family) could damage your ears. Getting better is your first priority, but it’s worth talking to your doctor about whether the dose is high enough to do damage. “High doses of any antibiotic can be dangerous,” says Frank. “Usually myacins are used in high doses.”

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Over-the-counter pain relievers

Over-the-counter pain relievers
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Even pain relievers you get over the counter, like aspirin and ibuprofen, could do damage in high amounts. Any hearing loss or tinnitus from them is usually temporary, but the side effects are sometimes permanent. As long as you stick with baby aspirin or regular doses of a pain medication, though, you won’t risk ruining your hearing, says Kasper.

Tinnitus can make you crazy. Here’s how to stop that noise in your head.

High fever

High fever
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As if a high fever weren’t bad enough, that elevated temperature could also damage the nerves in your inner ear, either because of inflammation or lack of oxygen. “If you don’t get that oxygen to the nerves, they break down and they don’t work like they should,” says Frank.

Exercise classes

Exercise classes
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Exercise classes are often very loud. The music blasting at your group workout might power you through your sweat session, but it might be working your ears in a bad way. “If you walk out of spin classes and your ears are buzzing, that’s an indication that you may have done damage to your ears,” says Kasper. Download an app to your smartphone to measure the sound level around you throughout your day, he recommends. Consider using hearing protection if your fitness centre is particularly noisy.

Kitchen appliances

Kitchen appliances
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Noisy appliances like blenders and coffee grinders could do damage to your ears over time. The more often you get those noisy blades going, the more trauma your ears go through. Hard-core chefs should consider ear protection, though the occasional smoothie isn’t anything to worry about. “If you’re in the kitchen and cooking and using a blender all day, that’s a problem,” says Frank. “If you use it for ten seconds once a week, it probably won’t be a problem for you.”

While we’re in the kitchen, check out these 10 cooking tricks that are only taught in culinary schools.

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