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 treated at the earliest possible stage.
The following are steps you can take to help prevent other types of hearing loss:
Wear ear protection when you will be exposed to loud noises.
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.
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.
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.
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.
It may be possible to slow age-related hearing loss in elderly persons through dietary modification.
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.
Hearing loss. NIH SeniorHealth website. Available at: http://nihseniorhealth.gov/hearingloss/hearinglossdefined/01.html. Accessed September 18, 2013.
Noise and hearing protection. American Academy of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery website. Available at: http://www.entnet.org/content/noise-and-hearing-protection. Accessed September 18, 2013.
Noise-induced hearing loss. National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders website. Available at: http://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/hearing/pages/noise.aspx. Updated October 2008. Accessed September 18, 2013.
Palmer KT, Griffin MJ, Syddall HE, et al. Cigarette smoking, occupational exposure to noise, and self reported hearing difficulties. Occup Environ Med. 2004;61(4):340-344.
1/24/2007 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Durga J, Verhoef P, Anteunis L, Schouten E, Kok F. 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 2015 by Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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