Excessive unprotected exposure to the sun’s rays can put you at risk of skin cancer, photoaging and damage to the skin, eyes and immune system. One infrequently discussed side effect of excess sun exposure is hearing damage or loss.
While getting your daily dose of vitamin D is important, knowing how the sun’s UV rays can affect your hearing and how you can manage its adverse effects can help you enjoy sunny days at Mueller Lake Park without worry.
An Overview of Ultraviolet Rays and Oxidative Stress
The sun’s rays contain ultraviolet (UV) radiation. While UV rays provide necessary vitamin D to your body, too much exposure can lead to adverse effects like hearing loss.
Excessive exposure to UV rays can lead to a condition called oxidative stress. Oxidative stress occurs when there is an excess of free radicals in cells and tissues and not enough antioxidants to fight them off.
One study examining 805 Japanese residents with photodamaged skin found that oxidative stress from chronic sun exposure can be a risk factor for developing hearing loss. Cell and tissue damage and accelerated aging from oxidative stress is one potential cause for the prevalence of hearing loss among individuals who have experienced chronic sun exposure.
How Can You Protect Against Oxidative Stress?
One of the best ways to protect against UV rays-induced oxidative stress is to practice sun protection. A couple of tips for protecting yourself against harmful UV rays include but are not limited to:
- Wear sunscreen. Chemical or mineral sunscreen applied every two hours during sun exposure is crucial to UV protection. Dermatologists recommend using a sunscreen of SPF (sun protection factor) 30 or higher. Even as we enter the bundled-up winter and fall months, it is wise to continue to apply sunscreen to your face or other exposed skin areas daily.
- Eat your vitamin D. Vitamin D is the most significant benefit of sun exposure, but you don’t need to put your health at risk to get it. Taking vitamins or eating foods high in vitamin D, such as salmon, tuna, egg yolk, cod liver oil, orange juice and dairy or plant milk fortified with vitamin D, can help you get your daily dose without the adverse effects of sun exposure.
For more information on protecting yourself against hearing loss, contact Austin Auditory Specialists today to make an appointment with one of our trusted specialists.