4 Ways to Protect Your Hearing

4 Ways to Protect Your Hearing

by Dr. Kevin Ivory

Our modern world is a very noisy place -- from honking car horns, rattling trucks and blaring sirens to music on the radio and from our neighbor’s stereo. Most of us don’t think about how much noise we deal with every day and how all this noise is affecting our hearing for the future.Nearly 14 percent of people aged 45 to 65 have some level of hearing loss. Many people are likely not even counted in this statistic because they avoid dealing with their hearing disability and don’t get their hearing checked. Denial about hearing loss is a huge risk because it can lead to a plethora of emotional mental and physical ailments including isolation, depression, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, dementia and even lower earnings in the workplace.

How Loud is Too Loud?

Noise is a large contributing factor to hearing loss. Excessive noise refers to being exposed to one-time noise over 120 decibels (the level of sound produced by an engine backfire) or consistent or prolonged noise over 80 decibels (the sound of constant traffic out your window, for example).

  • 85-90 dB = yelling, lawnmower, highway traffic = No more than 2 hours exposure.
  • 100 dB = motorcycle, gas powered leaf blower, factory machinery = hearing damage occurs within 15 minutes.
  • 110 or more = Explosions, gunshots, fireworks, close thunder, power tools = instant damage

Test the Noises Around You

These days its easier than ever to test the noises around you to know how potentially harmful they are. With the right application installed on your smartphone, you can check whether surrounding sounds are loud enough to endanger your hearing. The best apps to measure noise levels provide accurate results and make it easy for you to tell when a loud sound is actually too loud.

A Safe Volume

As stated before, any sound louder than 85 decibels can produce permanent hearing loss, but you don’t need to buy yourself a sound meter to measure the decibel level of your music. Instead, an effective rule of thumb is to keep your music player volume at no more than 60 percent of the max volume. Any higher and you’ll probably be over the 85-decibel limit.

Noise Canceling Headphones

If you live in an apartment or have a neighbor who constantly runs power tools, it’s tempting to try to tune it out. Perhaps you try to listen to music while you mow your own lawn. Know that if you’re using your music to block out background noise, your headphones are probably at an extremely high setting. Consider investing in a pair of noise-canceling headphones, which help cancel out external noises so you don’t have to turn up the volume on your media to hear it.

The Importance of Ear Protection

Protecting your hearing is not only important, it’s essential! Once damaged, your hearing will not “heal” and return to its normal abilities. The best protection we can provide is to eliminate the hazard, by using custom hearing protection when working with tools or in the environments that create these noise exposures. It is important to wear ear protection any time you exposed to dangerous levels of noise whether it be a job or for recreation.

Follow Safety Guidelines

If you work around loud sounds professionally or as a hobby, know and always follow safety guidelines. Learn the rules and live by them. Not only is it important to wear ear protection, but it’s key that you limit the amount of time you exposed to a potentially damaging noise. If there is a sound that is damaging, remember that putting distance between yourself and the sound reduces how loud and damaging the sound is.

Don’t Ignore Existing Hearing Loss

Chances are that you haven’t protected your ears 100% of the time and some permanent damage has already occurred. Ignoring your hearing loss can have overwhelmingly negative effects on you and everyone else involved. When your hearing is checked regularly, you can avoid these unnecessary expenses and consequences. Fortunately, getting your hearing tested and speaking with a hearing specialist gives you highly effective options for treating hearing loss and preventing further damage. If you have the slightest hunch that you are suffering from a hearing loss, contact us at Glendora Hearing to schedule a hearing test today.

Written by
Reviewed by
Dr. Kevin H. Ivory
Audiologist & University Instructor
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Dr. Kevin Ivory, Au.D., CCC-A received his Bachelor of Arts (Psychology) Degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He then went on to earn his Doctor of Audiology degree from Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, one of the top 10 audiology residential programs in the country.

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