Preventing Permanent Hearing Damage
Knowing these 4 ways to protect your hearing can keep you from a lifetime of permanent damage. Hearing loss is the third most common chronic medical condition in the United States. Over 45 million people have a significant hearing loss. Most hearing loss is permanent. This means that even if the hearing loss is getting treatment, loss due to damaging sound cannot be completely restored. Fortunately, there are preventative measures that you can do to reduce your risk of this kind of hearing loss.
The leading cause of hearing loss is due to exposure to dangerous levels of noise. Our world is loud – and getting louder, and exposure to loud noise can cause irreversible damage to the ears. While it can be hard to cut all excess noise from your life, protecting yourself can help maintain healthy hearing.
Recognize Dangerous Noise Levels
In order to protect yourself from dangerous noise levels, you need to know what to watch for. Human hearing is calibrated to sounds that fall within the range of 0 decibels to 75 decibels. For example, 0 dB being the quietest sound detectable by the ear. 75 dB is the level of the sound that comes from a vacuum cleaner. Sounds louder than 75 dB has the risk of causing permanent hearing damage. The louder the sound, the more quickly it can injure your ear.
The threshold for workplace safety is 85 dB, about the sound level of loud traffic. A constant sound level of 85 dB damages your hearing after 8 hours of exposure. Work sites with sound levels at 85 dB must provide you with appropriate ear protection at all times. This is a requirement.
Louder sounds can cause hearing damage in a much shorter time. At 95 dB, exposure is only safe for around one hour. The volume of an average rock concert, 105 dB, can damage your hearing in under 15 minutes. Sounds over 120 dB are unsafe for any amount of time.
If you want an easy way to recognize dangerous sound levels, try adding a decibel meter to your smartphone. Free apps are available and they allow you to quickly assess the volume of your surroundings. You can easily see if you need to use hearing protection to avoid hearing loss.
Get an Annual Hearing Exam
Making a hearing test part of your annual check-up can help you stay ahead of hearing loss. Annual hearing tests help detect any signs of hearing loss very early. It also helps keep further hearing damage from happening. Additionally, hearing damage that is found early responds better to treatment with hearing aids.
Untreated hearing loss places a strain on the brain. It can gradually alter the pathways our auditory system uses to understand sound. If treatment takes place early on, the negative effects of hearing loss may be less significant. Also, treatment such as hearing aids is more naturally effective.
Use Hearing Protection
You cannot possibly predict and avoid every overly loud environment. So, in addition to recognizing harmful sound levels and avoiding them when possible, it is also important to have hearing protection you can use when you need it. Talk to your hearing specialist to learn more about the type of hearing protection that would work best for your needs.
Earplugs can offer some protection from everyday noise, but if damaging sound levels are part of your lifestyle or workplace environment you will want to consider custom hearing protection. For example, Custom hearing protection is a great option for musicians and music lovers, hunters and sport shooters and even people who live close to airports and highways.
Learn Healthy Listening Habits
It is surprising to many people that the volume of your phone, stereo, computer, and television can easily go beyond dangerous noise level thresholds. Consequently, this is even likely if you are listening through earbuds or headphones. Volume levels aren’t calibrated for hearing safety, so monitoring these noise levels is our responsibility.
Hearing damage is often subtle and gradual, so loud volume often doesn’t feel physically painful, even when it is causing hearing loss. Therefore, It is important to err on the side of caution when it comes to volume levels.
For listening through headphones, start with a low volume and only turn the sound up to a level where you can hear it clearly. Volume levels throughout your home should follow the same principle – set them just loud enough to be heard clearly in one room. Don’t increase your volume levels compete with other loud noises in the environment. This can easily escalate sound to hazardous decibels. When in doubt, use a decibel monitoring app to assess your volume settings.
At Hearing Group, we are committed to all aspects of hearing health from prevention to treatment. Learning these 4 ways to protect your hearing can make a huge difference in your life. If you’ve noticed changes in your hearing or simply want to learn more about protecting your hearing abilities, contact us today for a consultation. In addition to these 4 ways to protect your hearing check out this article, All About Hearing Protection Tips.