If you think healthy living is only about things such as eating right and exercising, you are missing another important matter — your hearing. Hearing clearly is a precious ability that you should protect.

According to John O’Connor, an activist for healthy families and healthy aging, a healthy lifestyle is one that includes steps to keep your hearing in as good a shape as possible. And it all boils down to these six tips and six steps.

A Matter of Volume

The intensity of sound is measured in decibels. Sound that reaches 85 or more decibels can damage your hearing, according to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders.  To give you an idea of how loud that is, consider that normal conversation is about 60 decibels.  Many powered construction tools ,such as chainsaws, create sound at more than 100 decibels.

How Often is Too Often?

One time can be one time too often. Although chronic exposure to loud sounds is bad, you don’t have to be a construction worker or someone in another loud industry to harm your hearing. Experts say even being exposed just one time to a very loud noise can leave you with permanent hearing loss.  So keep an ear out for potentially damaging sound environments, and steer clear.

Other Causes of Hearing Loss

Exposure to loud sound is not the only thing that causes hearing loss. The simple process of aging also results in some loss of hearing for many people. Heredity plays a role here; some families are more prone to becoming hard of hearing than others.  According to the Mayo Clinic, an ear infection or injury, such as a ruptured ear drum, can also cause hearing loss.

How to Protect Your Hearing

There are many things you can do to keep your ears in good shape for life:

1. Try to find a job that doesn’t expose you to loud noises. If you must work in such an industry, always wear earplugs or other protective devices rated for the decibels to which you are exposed.

2. Enjoy music within safe decibel ranges.

3. Take care of ear infections right away. If your doctor prescribes an antibiotic, make sure to take all of it.

4. Don’t ignore a fever. Some illnesses, such as meningitis, that cause high fevers can harm your hearing.

5. Do not poke things in your ears.

6. Keep your ears clean and avoid a buildup of wax.

Symptoms of Hearing Loss

You may be experiencing a decrease in your ability to hear if you begin having a hard time understanding someone talking to you. This can be especially true when you are in a room with background noise. You may also need to turn your television or radio up to hear it better.

What to Do If you Have Difficulty

If you think you might have hearing loss, talk to your doctor. He will test whether there are any ranges of sound which you can’t hear clearly. If you do have some hearing loss, there are many hearing aids available today that can help you hear people around you so you can enjoy a high quality of life again.