Can You Prevent Hearing Loss?
Statistics have shown that hearing loss is incredibly common in the USA; one in eight people are thought to experience some degree of hearing loss, with those over the age of 60 particularly liable to experience the condition. In some ways, this commonality has meant that hearing loss has become a fact of life; something that is just accepted as an inevitability; part and parcel of the aging process – but is this actually the case?
In truth, when it comes to discussing hearing loss prevention, it is essential to employ a measure of realism. As humans age, the tiny hair cells on the inner ear begin to degrade, ultimately resulting in hearing loss – and there is relatively little that can be done to prevent this from happening, although an audiologist can certainly help to mitigate the issue.
However, age-related hearing loss is not the only type of hearing loss; in many cases, the issue may occur due to exposure to noise. In order to avoid this, the following advice is essential.
Wear ear defenders in noisy environments
Ear defenders are a crucial tool for those seeking to prevent age-related hearing loss, allowing you to still hear clearly while also protecting your ears. However, in order to know when you should be using ear defenders, we need to define the specifics regarding what constitutes a noisy environment:
- Studies have shown that sounds louder than 85db can cause permanent hearing damage.
- For reference, a normal conversation in a quiet room would usually reach 60 decibels; a vacuum cleaner is around 70db.
- Hairdryers and kitchen blenders cross the safe threshold, usually producing between 80-90db.
If you are unsure whether an environment is as loud as a hairdryer or kitchen blender, then it’s best to err on the side of caution and choose to wear ear defenders.
Take precautions when attending notoriously loud events
Concerts, theaters and sports stadia are almost always extremely loud, so take sensible precautions when attending events at these venues:
- Consider using specially-designed earplugs that allow you to hear music or stadium noise clearly but at a lower volume
- Take a moment to move into a quieter area every 15 minutes or switch to use ear defenders for a short spell frequently
- Rest your hearing for at least two days after the event
Be cautious when listening to music through headphones or earphones
Listening to music through head/earphones is incredibly enjoyable, but can also be problematic in terms of hearing health. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:
- Avoid turning the volume up beyond 50 percent of the maximum setting
- Use noise-canceling head/earphones if you struggle to hear the music over background noise when listening at low volumes
- Take frequent breaks; listening to music – at any volume – for more than one hour at a time can be damaging, so take frequent five-minute breaks in a quiet environment wherever possible
Unfortunately, it is impossible to completely prevent all forms of hearing loss – age-related hearing loss can happen to anyone. However, noise-induced hearing loss can be prevented and the tips above should stand you – and your hearing – in good stead for the future.