At this point, we all know to wear a helmet to protect our heads when riding a bike. It’s common sense, just like wearing eye protection when working with tools or the proper outer garments to guard against frigid temperatures. For some reason, though, the idea of protecting our ears does not seem like a priority.
Even with the World Health Organization stating that 360 million people worldwide are affected by hearing loss and 1.1 billion people between the ages of 12-35 are projected to suffer from hearing loss in the coming decades, adoption of preventative hearing practices is not taking hold.
What Are Good Hearing Loss Prevention Practices?
If you’re already suffering from hearing loss, it’s probably too late to repair the damage. Luckily, there are plenty of steps you can take to prevent hearing loss from taking hold in the first place.
- Be aware of the noise levels in your daily life. A decibel level of 85 is not damaging for short exposures but can be damaging with long-term exposure. Most people don’t realize that a noisy office can reach 85 decibels. Eight hours in that office may negatively impact your hearing health.
- Take frequent hearing breaks. If we read a book and our eyes tire, we put the book down for a bit. Do the same for your ears. Our ears are not as good at letting us know when they’re fatigued, so take no-noise breaks often during your day.
- Use hearing protection like earplugs or earmuffs if you know you will be exposed to high noise levels or long-term noise. Typical noises in the danger range are motorcycles, concerts, chainsaws, and shouted conversations.
- Limit your use of earbuds. This one will be tough for many people, but turn the music down and get those buds out of your ears. Earbuds rest near the eardrum and are damaging when used at high volumes.
Damage From Unexpected Places
These tips are ridiculously easy to apply for most people, but what if your livelihood depends on being in a noisy environment? Most of us will immediately think of a construction or industrial zone when we think of high-noise jobs. A recent study evaluated the noise impact on another group of employees exposed to constant loud noises: professional musicians.
Decibels are decibels. It doesn’t matter if it’s a jackhammer or an instrument. The study found that musicians were impacted, not only in full orchestra sessions but, when practicing alone at home, as well. As expected, percussionists were found to be the most affected, along with flutists. Cellists and musicians in the bass section were the least affected due to the softer sounds produced by their instruments.
The solution for musicians? It’s the same as the solution for all of us: use ear protection. Part of the issue with ear protection may be that it dulls our hearing and that can feel uncomfortable. When we use eye protection it doesn’t impact our vision. Regardless of the reasons for a lack of adoption, hearing protection should be used often and encouraged by all hearing healthcare providers. Schedule an appointment with us to discuss how to protect your hearing and to set up a hearing care plan.