Your ability to hear is valuable – once it’s gone, the chance of getting it back in its natural form is slim to nil. But curiously, the general public tends to neglect hearing loss. In fact, permanent hearing loss affects one out of eight people (about 30 million people) over the age of 12 in the United States alone.
While there are treatments that can help you get some hearing back, like hearing aids, it’s such an easy thing to protect your ears from the start to prevent avoidable hearing loss.
Here are five easy ways that you can protect your hearing:
Earbuds should be avoided
Earbuds are one of the biggest perils to hearing health today since they’ve come packaged with mobile devices going back to the first MP3 devices in the early 2000s. These little devices fit snugly into the ear canal and pump sound straight into the inner ear and most smartphones included them. You can get irreversible hearing damage by listening to a movie or music on your mobile device at maximum volume for just 15 minutes. The better choice would be to get a pair of earmuff-style headphones that go over your ears, which is made even more effective if you can find a pair that has noise-canceling technology. No matter what devices you use, you should follow the 60/60 rule – keep the volume at 60% maximum and only use the devices for 60 minutes every day.
Keep your volume down
Earbuds don’t generate the only sounds that can harm your hearing. Loud noises from a radio or TV can do as much damage if you regularly listen to them over a sustained period of time. You’ll also want to steer clear of situations where loud noises are constant, such as construction zones, concerts, and shooting ranges. It might be impractical to completely avoid these environments especially if they’re part of your job. The next item on the list will be important if you’re in this situation.
Use hearing protection
If you have hobbies or work in a loud setting, it’s essential that you make use of hearing protection. Hearing loss can happen in just 15 minutes at 85 decibels. To put that in perspective:
- Jackhammers at a construction site generate 130 decibels, which could cause significant harm after a 40-hour workweek
- The majority of concerts are between 100 and 120 decibels with headliners commonly playing for around an hour and 20 minutes
- Over a one hour visit to the indoor gun range, your ears are repeatedly exposed to gunfire that clocks in at over 150 decibels on average
The moral here is that you should purchase some kind of hearing protection like earmuffs or earplugs if you take part in any of these activities.
Take auditory breaks
There are times you just need to give your ears a break. Even if you use hearing protection, if you are subjected to loud sounds like these for extended periods, you should take some quiet breaks to give your ears a chance to rest. So after you leave a concert, you most likely shouldn’t jump into your car and blast music.
Check your medicine
Your hearing may be significantly affected by the medication you take. There are some medications that have been proven to trigger hearing loss including certain heart and cancer medicines, aspirin, antibiotics, and anti-inflammatory medicine. Fortunately, medication related hearing loss normally only happens when more than one of these medications are taken together making it far less common.
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