Specsavers Audiologists in Felixstowe and Sudbury are urging residents to listen up and protect their hearing no matter what their age, after a recent study showed a third of dementia cases are preventable through nine lifestyle changes – number one being maintaining good hearing.

Risks for dementia

The Lancet Commission on dementia prevention, intervention and care showed that mid-life hearing loss increases the risk of dementia by almost 10 per cent. Researchers say this can deny people a cognitively rich environment, leading to isolation and depression, which are among other potential risks for dementia. 

Westly Fox, hearing director at Specsavers Felixstowe and Sudbury, gives his top tips on how to keep your ears clear. He says: ‘Young or old, once you lose your hearing you may never get it back. That’s why it’s important to know the threats and signs of hearing loss no matter what your age.’

The top six hazards to your hearing

  • Smoking – Cigarettes contain substances such as nicotine that are ototoxic. This can damage your hearing and affect your balance. Various studies have shown that up to 7 in 10 smokers are more likely to develop some form of hearing loss compared to non-smokers.
  • Cotton buds – Many people love the feeling of clearing out their ears with a cotton bud but, despite feeling good, it may be doing you harm. Your inner ears are very sensitive and the ear drum is particularly delicate. By using any small objects to clean or scratch the ear, you are at higher risk of perforating the eardrum, which can cause intense pain and leave irreversible damage to your hearing. Your body will normally produce enough earwax to maintain health on its own, but if this becomes hard and compacted it can lead to problems such as loss of hearing, pain or discomfort. If this becomes the case, come in store and one of our audiologists can find the treatment that’s right for you. 
  • Swimming – Taking a splash in the pool may not do any harm but   accidentally leaving water in your ear afterwards could lead to swimmer’s ear. This is an infection that is caused by water making your outer ear canal moist - a perfect environment for bacteria to grow in. To treat swimmer’s ear, you’ll need to see your doctor and get prescription antibiotic eardrops. So make sure you dry your ears out thoroughly every time you swim.
  • Your favourite music – No, Ed Sheeran is not secretly making you deaf. However, how you’re listening to him and your other favourite artists could be. Most people know the best way to protect your ears at concerts without losing out is earbuds, but when you’re listening to music every day – on your commute to work or school, when browsing the web or even drifting off to sleep – you could be harming your hearing just with the type of headphones you’re listening through. Earbud headphones are placed much closer to the ear drum which can boost audio signals by up to nine decibels. To protect your hearing, change to traditional overhead headphones and ensure you can hear outside conversations. 
  • The cinema – Everyone loves a trip to the cinema to see the latest blockbuster. Cinemas often boast of floor-shaking sound systems that immerse you into the experience. However, your hearing could be suffering as a result. Sound can reach up to 130 decibels, which is equivalent to a jet engine. This isn’t to say you can’t enjoy your favourite films – just take caution. As with concerts, earbuds can soften the blow while still letting you in on all the action. 
  • Earwax - Wax build-up is one of the most common causes of hearing loss. Some of the symptoms include: fullness, tinnitus and partial hearing loss. Eardrops can help loosen and soften the earwax, which may help it work its way out. However, the safest and easiest way to get rid of excess or hard earwax is to see a professional. Specsavers offers earwax removal services where an audiologist will either remove unwanted earwax manually or through micro suction for only £35. If there’s no wax there’s no fee.

Westly says: ‘As with sight checks, hearing tests should be treated as a regular healthcare check-up to ensure you can hear that pin drop. Anyone over the age of 50 should have their hearing checked every two years and then every year once you reach 55.

'Hearing loss is a gradual thing so most people don’t realise there’s a problem until their hearing has really deteriorated. It’s important to remember that hearing loss is just part of the ageing process. It’s something that happens to everyone eventually.’

Safe and sound

Sudbury and Felixstowe Specsavers provide the most up-to-date and state-of-the-art technology to ensure customers are safe and sound. Both stores have the latest in ear screening equipment - a video otoscope (VO) that uses a tiny fibre-optic camera to see the condition of a person’s ear and provides them with a detailed colour photograph.  

Close examination of the ear canal and eardrum can often indicate ways to improve hearing clarity and, by using this latest advance in hearing technology, the process is easy and comfortable. 

The video otoscope can check:

  • Eardrum condition and infections
  • Ear canal problems and infections
  • Middle ear fluid
  • The level and build-up of wax in your ear

Westly says: ‘This investment shows our commitment to providing our customers with the very best care. The video otoscope service is not routinely carried out elsewhere on the high street but it will be available to all having a hearing test in store with us.’

All Sudbury store information

All Felixstowe store information

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