How to Prevent Hearing Loss: 6 Tips

Hearing loss happens for various reasons and can vary in severity. Some people have hearing loss from birth, while others may experience it later in life. You might have hearing loss due to aging, improper headphone use, or exposure to loud noises through recreation or your occupation. 

There are two main categories of hearing loss: sensorineural and conductive. The first type, sensorineural, happens when the inner ear or auditory nerve becomes damaged. The damage is usually irreversible. Conductive hearing loss, on the other hand, is often reversible.

Signs of hearing loss include:

  • Not understanding people over the phone
  • Difficulty following conversations
  • Listening to the TV or radio at a very high volume
  • Frequently needing people to repeat themselves
  • Trouble hearing because of background noise
  • Difficulty hearing certain types of voices like high-pitched ones

This article will cover some of the ways you can prevent certain types of hearing loss. 

Age and Hearing Loss

Many people experience hearing loss as they get older. This type of hearing loss, also known as presbycusis, usually happens in both ears at once and can run in families. It also typically occurs gradually.

Don’t assume that age is the reason for your hearing loss, though. Underlying conditions that are more common in older adults may also lead to hearing loss. A stroke (loss of blood flow or a bleed in the brain), for example, can cause hearing loss. Some medications can also contribute to loss of hearing.

Always talk to a doctor if you notice a change in your hearing ability. 

Talk to a Doctor

Because there are many possible causes for hearing loss, including underlying medical conditions, it’s essential to see a doctor when you’re experiencing hearing loss.


They can check for underlying conditions and recommend a suitable treatment option for your type of hearing loss, like a hearing aid or surgery.


If you have sudden hearing loss, it's considered an emergency and requires immediate treatment.

Noise and Hearing Loss

Noise exposure is the most common cause of hearing loss. Modern life involves a lot of loud noises that can affect your ability to hear. Unlike age-related hearing loss, there are ways to prevent noise-related hearing loss.

How to Prevent Hearing Loss

Preventing Hearing Loss

Verywell / Jessica Olah

Get Your Hearing Tested

Regular testing with an audiologist (a health professional specializing in hearing and balance disorders) can help catch problems before they become irreversible. 

Avoid Loud Noises

Staying away from loud noises is the best way to avoid noise-induced hearing loss. If you need to be around loud noises for your job, try taking frequent breaks from noise exposure, if possible. Wear hearing protection devices such as earplugs or noise-reducing earmuffs. 

Additionally, if you’re concerned about noise levels at your workplace, consider talking to your supervisor.

Concert goers who don’t want to sacrifice their favorite leisure activity can try positioning themselves far away from speakers. At home, keeping the volume on devices low and turning on closed-captioning can help keep noise at safe levels.

Wear Hearing Protection

Not everyone can avoid exposure to loud noises. However, wearing proper ear protection can help prevent damage that leads to hearing loss. 

Whether you’re a touring musician or someone who works around loud equipment, wearing earplugs or muffs can help dampen sound and protect your ears. If you engage in hunting or shooting sports, always wear hearing protection when discharging a firearm or you are near others doing so.

Take Care When Wearing Headphones 

Ideally, you shouldn’t blast music in your headphones. You might also consider taking listening breaks every hour or so.

This goes for all types of loud noise since loud sounds cause increasing damage over time: 

  • Above 100 decibels: 15 minutes or less.
  • Above 110 decibels: One minute or less.

Don’t Smoke 

Evidence suggests that nicotine, a chemical in cigarettes and other tobacco products, can cause hearing loss. You don’t have to smoke yourself to experience tobacco-induced hearing loss. Second-hand smoke can also be a culprit.

Check Side Effects of Medication

Some drugs can also cause hearing loss and may even cause tinnitus or ringing in the ears. These are called ototoxic drugs and include:

  • Certain antibiotics
  • Some chemotherapy drugs
  • Some over-the-counter (OTC) drugs like aspirin
  • Some anti-inflammatory drugs

Tinnitus is often the first sign of ototoxicity.

Summary 

Hearing loss can happen at any age and for many reasons. While age-related hearing loss isn’t usually preventable, you can take steps to prevent noise-induced hearing loss.

You can avoid noise-related hearing loss by getting your hearing regularly tested, avoiding ear-damaging loud sounds, wearing ear protection around loud noises, practicing safe headphone listening, quitting smoking, and stopping medications that cause hearing loss. 

A Word From Verywell 

You can prevent noise-induced hearing loss, but loud noises aren’t always avoidable. They can happen suddenly even when you’re being very careful. 

If you suspect you have some amount of hearing loss, don’t assume it’s noise-induced. Make sure to get a hearing test and see a hearing professional. They can rule out any possible underlying conditions that may be causing your hearing loss and recommend solutions to help restore your hearing or manage your current level of hearing loss.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Are headphones bad for you?

    Not necessarily. It’s important to keep the volume at a safe level. Experts recommend keeping the volume at about 60% maximum and limiting your listening time to an hour.

  • Can hearing loss be corrected?

    Conductive hearing loss is sometimes reversible. Sensorineural hearing loss is usually not. 

  • What foods improve hearing?

    No food can magically improve hearing or reverse hearing loss. One 2018 study of women suggests that a healthy diet is linked to a lower risk of hearing loss.

    Keep in mind that correlation doesn’t mean causation. But it makes sense that eating healthy can reduce your risk of hearing loss, especially hearing loss due to an underlying condition.

7 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. National Institute on Aging. Hearing loss: a common problem for older adults.

  2. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). Preventing hearing loss.

  3. Nemours. How can I prevent hearing loss?

  4. Hearing Loss Association of America. Noise-induced hearing loss is preventable.

  5. NYU Langone Health. Preventing hearing loss in adults.

  6. Nemours. Earbuds.

  7. Curhan SG, Wang M, Eavey RD, Stampfer MJ, Curhan GC. Adherence to healthful dietary patterns is associated with lower risk of hearing loss in women. The Journal of Nutrition. 2018;148(6):944-951. doi:10.1093/jn/nxy058

By Steph Coelho
Steph Coelho is a freelance health writer, web producer, and editor based in Montreal. She specializes in covering general wellness and chronic illness.