By understanding the risks and taking steps to protect your hearing against damage, you can continue to enjoy better hearing well into later life.

Preventing Hearing Loss: Promoting Hearing Health at Every Stage of Life

by | Jul 11, 2023 | Hearing Loss, Patient Resources

Recent statistics show that hearing loss affects approximately 48 million Americans. While hearing challenges are more common among aging adults, people of all ages can experience hearing loss and its negative effects on their mental and physical health, relationships, and overall quality of life.

However, the good news is that many cases of hearing challenges are preventable.

Age, genetics, and your overall health can contribute to hearing loss , and there are lifestyle choices, social activities, vocations, and hobbies that put you at greater risk of developing hearing challenges. However, by understanding those risks and taking steps to protect your hearing against damage, you can continue to enjoy better hearing well into later life.

Whether you’re born with hearing loss (congenital), or it is acquired, promoting better hearing health at all ages can make a big difference.

Hearing Loss Affects All Ages

Before getting into how to prevent hearing loss, we want to share a few basic statistics to drive home the fact that hearing loss affects individuals of all ages.

According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control), more than 6,000 infants were reported to have been born in 2020 with hearing loss in one or both ears.

In addition, a study published in the American Journal of Public Health states that of the individuals in the US with hearing loss who are over the age of 12, 25.4 million have mild hearing loss, 10.7 million have moderate hearing loss, 1.8 million have severe hearing loss, and 400,000 have profound hearing loss.

Afflicting 15 percent of the total US population, hearing loss is the third most common health condition affecting the quality of life of Americans, beating out both cancer and diabetes. Hearing loss can be either congenital or acquired.

hearing protection

Preventing Congenital Hearing Loss

Congenital hearing loss develops before birth, which means the child inherits a hearing deficiency or it is developed from prenatal exposure to an infection or toxin.

About 25 percent of newborns experience hearing loss from an unknown cause, while another 25 to 30 percent have hearing loss linked to maternal infections during pregnancy or complications during birth.

Fifty percent or more newborns experience hearing loss due to genetic causes, which includes babies that have family members with hearing loss and infants diagnosed with Alport syndrome, Stickler syndrome, and other syndromes.

Up to 25 percent of congenital hearing loss cases could be prevented through a healthy prenatal lifestyle and improved prenatal care.

Preventing Acquired Hearing Loss

In contrast to congenital hearing loss, acquired hearing loss develops after birth. Acquired hearing loss takes on various forms and can come from a variety of causes.


The most common form of hearing loss, commonly called age-related hearing loss, presbycusis develops as you age. Causes can include long-term exposure to noise, medical conditions like high blood pressure and diabetes, ototoxic medications, and otosclerosis (an abnormality of the middle ear that can get worse with age).

Though presbycusis is the hardest to prevent, avoiding long-term exposure to noise, checking and maintaining optimal levels of blood pressure and blood sugar, and monitoring the side effects of your medications can hold it at bay or limit its effect on your quality of life.

Noise-Induced Hearing Loss

The second most common cause of hearing loss is ongoing exposure to loud noise, or noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL). NIHL is the result of damage done to the inner ear by loud noise.

While blasts, like gunfire or fireworks, can cause immediate hearing loss, less explosive sounds, such as airplane engines, rock concerts, or even high-pitched dentist drills, still cause damage, though at a slower pace.

For some, NIHL is related to their vocation. For example, cites a study related to hearing loss among 12.6% of truck drivers who already had or are at significant risk of developing hearing loss due to the harmful conditions they are exposed to. Construction workers and factory workers are also regularly exposed to damaging noise levels.

The music industry is another area where NIHL is prevalent, thanks to exposure to sounds that are above a level that is safe for your ears. Personal listening devices (ear buds, earphones) used for gaming, music, or videos do a significant amount of damage to the hearing of many adolescents if volume levels are too loud.

Once the damage is done, it is both cumulative and irreversible, which means that other than making sure that the volume on your child’s hearing device is at or below recommended levels, your best defense against developing NIHL is to use hearing protection.

Quick Tip:

You are likely doing damage to your ears if…

…you have to raise your voice to be heard

…you can’t hear someone three feet away from you

…speech and sounds are muffled or dull after leaving a noisy place

…you experience pain or ringing in your ears (tinnitus) after being in a noisy place

… it feels too loud, because that means it probably is.

Illnesses and Diseases

Illnesses and diseases that can damage your hearing include:

  • Otosclerosis (middle ear malformation)
  • Meniere’s disease
  • Measles
  • Mumps
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Acoustic neuroma
  • Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)

Vaccinations, regular checkups, proper control of blood pressure and blood sugar, and practicing safe sex are all ways to help prevent hearing loss.

Other Causes

There are a couple of other preventable causes that contribute to hearing loss.

Physical trauma, like a head injury during sports, an accident, or the concussion from an explosion, can be prevented by using proper protective gear that covers your head and ears.

Ototoxic medications can damage sensory cells in the inner ear that are essential for hearing and balance. According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, there are more than 200 medications and chemicals that are known to cause hearing and balance problems, including certain aminoglycoside antibiotics, such as gentamicin (family history may increase susceptibility), and cancer chemotherapy drugs, such as cisplatin and carboplatin.

Monitoring your medications and asking for non-ototoxic alternatives can help prevent them from causing you to develop hearing challenges.

Lifestyle Tips to Prevent Hearing Loss


Healthy Hearing provides a list of eight ways that you can prevent hearing loss as an adult.

  1. Manage your blood pressure and cardiac health.
  2. Stop smoking and vaping, and limit drinking.
  3. Keep diabetes under control.
  4. Exercise and practice stress reduction.
  5. Eat foods high in B12, potassium, magnesium, and iron or take supplements.
  6. Know your family history to identify risk factors and anticipate getting the help you need before hearing loss affects your quality of life.
  7. Be aware of drugs (recreational, prescription, and OTC) that cause hearing loss.
  8. Lower your risk of noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) by wearing ear protection in noisy environments.


Four Tips to Prevent Hearing Loss in Your Child

  1. Have a healthy lifestyle during pregnancy, including routine prenatal care.
  2. Make sure your child gets all regular childhood vaccines.
  3. Keep your child away from loud noises, like power mowers, music concerts, emergency vehicle sirens, airplane jets taking off, fireworks, and lawnmowers or ensure that they have proper protection for their ears.
  4. Create a quiet home by setting the volume of televisions, video games, and personal listening devices at safe levels.

Keep in mind that you set the example that your children will follow.

Proactive Hearing Loss Prevention

Hearing loss prevention means taking a proactive approach to your hearing health. This should include adding regular hearing exams to your list of checkups. If your tests show that you already have some hearing loss, you can begin taking action to prevent it from getting worse; if not, your hearing test helps establish a baseline against which future changes can be measured.

During a comprehensive hearing assessment, your audiologist will not only test your hearing, but also be able to identify areas where you are at risk of developing hearing loss and help you prevent it.

Learn more about hearing assessments and hearing loss prevention by contacting us using the adjacent form.

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Monica Walker

After many years of working in busy environments to care for thousands of people’s hearing across Atlanta, I made the decision to focus on what actually matters – building real-world relationships to offer the highest level of hearing care available to trusted friends. Through the “HEARoeClub,” I work hands-on to personally care for a small number of incredible people to help them achieve better hearing, and going above and beyond to deliver much more than just hearing care.

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