Noise-Induced Hearing Loss is Completely Preventable!
Hearing loss is the inability to hear some sounds, but not being able to hear well is only one of the problems connected to hearing loss. Some other common hearing loss problems which can make it difficult to listen and communicate include:
- Not knowing where sounds are coming from
- Particular speech sounds might not be audible which make it harder to understand conversations
- Having difficulties separating sounds when listening in noisy environments
- Loud sounds may cause discomfort
Why is hearing loss prevention important?
The hearing system is complex and very delicate. The cochlea ( a.k.a. the inner part of the ear) contains fluid and thousands of tiny hair-like cells which if damaged can cause hearing loss. Loud noises can damage these sensitive structures in the ear, causing hearing loss, and hearing loss is essentially irreversible.
Loud sounds don’t have to be physically painful to cause hearing loss damage. You may not even realize the damage that noise causes to your hearing. If you need to raise your voice in order to be understood, then the noise is probably too loud. Damage to hearing from noise accumulates, just as the sun can gradually damage our skin. The higher the level of sound and the longer the exposure, the more damage is likely to occur.
Tips on How to Prevent Hearing Loss:
- Avoid loud sounds and noise if you can.
- Get your hearing tested regularly
- Beware….sudden and very intense sounds are particularly dangerous and can cause immediate and permanent hearing loss.
- If you use or are around lawn mowers, chain saws and power tools, always wear hearing protection
- If you attend loud music events like rock concerts or nightclubs use hearing protectors. Special earplugs can be made for musicians that protect the hearing while preserving the sound quality of the music.
- Limit the time in very noisy environments by taking regular breaks in quieter areas.
- If you use a personal listening devices like MP3 players, set the volume at a moderate level, and don’t turn the volume up in order to drown out other background noises. Encourage your children to use their headphones conservatively. Consider investing in higher quality earphones that block out background noise to help you moderate your listening levels in noisier places. Fact: One in five adolescents has hearing Loss: ear buds may be to blame.
- Be aware that your risk increases if you are occupationally exposed to solvents or toxins or if you are taking certain drugs.
- Remember, it is an employer’s responsibility to provide a safe work environment. So if necessary, check with your employer to make sure that your jobsite has an effective program to adequately protect your hearing, meeting federal or state regulations.
- If you cannot avoid loud sound, then you should protect your ears with earplugs or ear muffs.
- Give your ears frequent rest from noise.
Musicians are particularly at risk because they listen to the sounds that they and their band produce, and these sounds may be as high as 135 dB. They have no choice to do this daily; this is their career and their livelihood.
Custom fitted earplugs or in-ear monitors for musicians are available that can help. The newest and best versions are able to reduce the sound equally all across the spectrum, from low to high frequencies, meaning everything sounds just as good as it did before, only softer.
Remember, Noise-Induced Hearing Loss is Completely Preventable!
Be aware of the risks of hazardous noise in your life. Since prevention of hearing loss is so critical, make sure that your family, especially children, friends, and colleagues are aware of the hazards of noise and how they can protect themselves. One-third of permanent hearing loss is preventable with proper hearing loss prevention.
Get your hearing tested, protect your ears in the workplace, and avoid recreational risks by wearing hearing protectors!