Hearing loss affects approximately 48 million people in the United States. That means that one out of every 7 people has some measure of hearing loss. Unfortunately, because we live in a noisy world, hearing loss is growing. The noise in our world is growing, accounting for one-fourth of hearing impaired Americans. And that’s cause for concern. Noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) is very preventable. Here are some things you can do.
Turn the volume down.
We’re bombarded with noise from traffic, headsets, home entertainment systems, telephone dial tones, appliances, loudspeakers, power tools, sirens, and more. Your ears can handle decibels up to 80 decibels without sustaining damage. That includes sounds such as normal conversations, household appliances, and alarm clocks.
If the noise source has a volume control, use it. Earbuds, especially, can create ear damage since they direct sounds directly into the user’s ears. When listening to music, you can either turn the volume down on your earbuds or switch to headphones to protect your ears. If another person can hear your music, it’s time to turn it down.
Wear ear protection.
Once sounds go up to 85 decibels and beyond, it’s time to wear ear protection. Concerts and sports events may be exciting, but the damage they can do to your ears is long-lasting. Even a symphony orchestra can produce volumes up to 100 decibels. Pop concerts are worse, with a constant decibel level of 110 decibels. If the crowd is screaming, the noise level can go up to 120 decibels, which is the equivalent of an ambulance siren. If you’re going to a concert or sports event, purchase some earplugs that are specifically designed for this purpose, such as PartyPlugs or DuraPlugs.
Musical instruments regularly reach levels above 85 decibels, particularly for the people playing them. If you’re a musician, an audiologist can get you fitted with filtered earplugs or even hearing aids that can be programmed for use while playing music. You may need to retrain your ears to hear music, but you’ll be able to protect your ears from further hearing loss.
When using power tools or heavy machinery, riding a motorcycle, shooting a gun, or working around jet engines, it’s imperative to wear substantial ear protection. These high decibels can cause swift and permanent damage.
If there is no way to protect your ears, do your best to walk away from the noise. It takes approximately 30 minutes for 85 decibels to permanently damage your ears. At a concert, stadium, or club, you can position yourself at the center of the crowd to minimize noise exposure.
Hearing damage is nothing to laugh about. You only have one set of ears so protect your ears now before it is too late. And if you do notice signs of hearing loss, see an audiologist for a hearing evaluation. It’s important to your quality of life.