October is Audiology Awareness Month and National Protect Your Hearing Month. As the month comes to a close, we thought it would be the perfect time to highlight some common sounds that may damage your hearing, as well as what you can do to protect yourself.
Noise-Induced Hearing Loss is a Common Problem
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that noise-induced hearing loss is a common problem that affects both older and younger adults. According to their website, “An estimated 12.5% of children and adolescents aged 6–19 years and 17% of adults aged 20–69 years have suffered permanent damage to their hearing from excessive exposure to noise.”
Hearing Loss from Noise Exposure Can’t Be Cured
Noise-induced hearing loss occurs because loud sound can damage the hair cells of the inner ear. These cells are integral to your ability to hear, and once they are damaged, they cannot be repaired. Once you develop this type of hearing loss, it cannot be cured.
What Sounds Are Too Loud?
Prolonged exposure to any sound 85 decibels (dB) or over can damage your hearing. This volume is roughly the equivalent of city traffic. The louder the noise, the less time it takes for damage to start to occur. Many common noises reach levels that are 85 dB or louder, including:
- Live music
- Sporting events
- Riding motorcycles, snowmobiles or ATVs
- Working in a loud environment like construction
- Listening to music on your headphones
- Hunting or shooting
- Using a lawn mower, leaf blower or snow blower
- Attending an exercise class or gym that plays loud music
You Can Take Steps to Prevent Noise-Induced Hearing Loss
You don’t have to miss out on concerts at the Orpheum Theater to prevent noise-induced hearing loss. You just need to take the proper steps to prioritize your hearing health, including:
- Wearing hearing protection. Earplugs, earmuffs or custom hearing protection can all reduce the decibel level to a safe volume while still allowing you to hear the sounds you need to hear.
- Taking breaks. Whether you’re listening to music on your headphones or attending a loud event, it’s a good idea to take breaks from the sound to give your ears a bit of a rest. This may mean moving further away from the sound source or just taking off your headphones for a bit.
- Turning the volume down. Don’t go over 60% of your headphone’s maximum volume, and keep your TV at a reasonable level when watching at home. When it comes to the type of headphones, over-the-ear, noise-canceling headphones are usually safer than earbuds.
- Get a hearing test. While a hearing test can’t prevent hearing loss, it can detect it early. The earlier you are diagnosed and treated with hearing aids, the more likely it is that you can slow or prevent further damage to your hearing from occurring.
To learn more about how to protect your hearing or to schedule an appointment, call Ear Specialists of Omaha & Bellevue today