We humans are visual creatures. Those of us who are sighted (the majority of us) make sense of the world through what we see. But that doesn’t mean that we can afford to neglect our hearing. Our lifestyles, our habits, and genetic conditions like Meniere’s Disease can all conspire to cause our hearing to deteriorate. And very often it happens so slowly and incrementally that we don’t even realize that something has gone awry until our hearing has already deteriorated considerably. Your ears are important. They help you to connect with other people. They help you to communicate at work, at home and in your leisure activities. And you probably wouldn’t be able to live life as you know it without them.

With that in mind, here are some ways in which you can, and should, take care of your ears and your hearing.

Stop using Q-Tips!

Nobody likes the thought of having waxy ears. But while it may not be the most pleasant substance on the planet, ear wax is surprisingly important. It is naturally antibacterial, it keeps the skin of your inner ears soft and it prevents nasty stuff from entering your body through your ear drum. With that in mind, stop cleaning out your ears with Q-Tips. They can push ear wax further into the ear canal causing it to get compacted and in some cases can even cause you to do damage to the ear drum.

See your audiologist regularly

Don’t believe the hearing loss myths. If your hearing is starting to deteriorate, it’s not going to get better on its own. You need to see your audiologist regularly. They can check for signs that your hearing has deteriorated and recommend a hearing aid if you need one. They can also clean your ears for you safely and effectively. They can even refer you to an ENT specialist if they see something in your ears that might necessitate surgical intervention.

Protect your ears in loud environments

Do you adore live music? Do you rarely leave the home without your headphones settled in place? Do you work with noisy machinery? Or are you a musician in an amateur or professional capacity? Spending a lot of time in noisy environments can seriously damage your hearing. But you don’t have to sacrifice what you’re hearing when you turn down the volume. It’s simply a case of finding the right ear plugs.

Turn down the volume on your headphones

Speaking of headphones, nobody’s suggesting that you can’t enjoy your favorite music, podcasts or audio books while you’re on the go. However, it’s worth considering that the volume settings on most smartphones and mp3 players are color coded fro a reason. If you routinely stray into the red zone when listening, it could risk impairing your hearing in the future.

Go easy on the caffeine and salt

Finally, an excess of caffeine and salt can not only exacerbate worry and stress, and lead to a greater risk of hypertension, they can also impair your hearing. They can worsen imbalances of the fluids in the inner ears especially if you have an undiagnosed genetic condition like Meniere’s Disease. This in turn can lead to damage to your auditory nerves… So for your ears and your general health it might be time to make the switch to decaf!