Many underestimate the importance of hearing health. It is with having to ask people to repeat themselves now and then. As this becomes normal as opposed to isolated events it can affect the quality of your interactions daily, driving rifts in important relationships which used to represent emotional stability. As communication issues start to affect every aspect of your social life, chronic depression anxiety and loneliness start to color your life.
It’s important to do what you can to prevent hearing loss from getting to this point. Hearing loss is in most cases irreversible so it’s important to practice hearing safety whenever you can. Here are a few ways you can protect your hearing, to ensure you can hold on to it for as long as possible.
Sound is measured in decibels and any sound which is louder than 85 decibels can damage your hearing. It takes 8 hours of constant exposure of 85dB for hearing damage to occur, but a 10 dB increase is 10 times louder and requires less than an hour for the same damage to occur. Whether you are at work, at home, enjoying a hobby, or just relaxing make sure you take note of the decibel level around you. If it passes 85dB, it’s a good idea to wear hearing protection.
Hearing protection can reduce the decibel level from 15-33dB depending upon the need and model. Foam earplugs are inexpensive and portable while others enjoy more protection with custom-fitted earplugs or protective earmuffs. Work environments are required by law to provide hearing protection to all employees at no cost to them, but you should be ready to wear hearing protection anywhere that the decibel level passes into the danger zone.
Listen to Headphones Safely
Hearing loss is commonly associated as a health concern affecting older adults but in part due to the use of personal listening devices such as headphones and earbuds, a younger generation is dealing with hearing loss. 50% of people ages 12-35 are exposed to unsafe levels of noise from the use of personal audio devices. Headphones have the potential to deliver decibel levels as high as 105dB enough to damage hearing in under 15 minutes. It’s important to keep the volume of your headphones no louder than 60% of the potential volume and make sure to give your ears a rest every hour or so.
Invest in Noise Cancelling Headphones
There is a natural inclination to try to turn up the volume of headphones on public transportation or a busy café to try to block out distracting sounds around you, but of course, this can backfire, causing permanent hearing loss. However, the exciting technology of noise-canceling headphones can eliminate the need to turn up the volume.
Noise cancellation technology detects the ambient sound of a room and emits an inverted sound wave which effectively cancels out background noise. This makes it easier to listen at a safe level and protect your ears.
Wear a Helmet
Many are surprised to find out that impact to the head can not only cause cognitive issues but hearing issues. Head injuries are common for those who play contact sports such as football or those who bike or snowboard. Make sure to always wear a helmet not only to protect your valuable brain but the fragile auditory system. Similarly, if you needed one more reason to wear your seatbelt, automobile accidents are one of the most common causes of head trauma, which among many serious health risks, can lead to permanent hearing loss.
Clean your Ears Safely
A good rule of thumb is to never stick anything in your ear smaller than your elbow. Far too many risk hearing loss every time they stick a cotton swab in their ear canal to remove earwax. Earwax is self-cleaning and removes dirt from the inner ear as natural jaw movements send earwax towards the outer ear. Sticking anything in your ear risks damage to the fragile parts or pushing earwax further into the ear canal where it can be impacted, blocking hearing. By taking a hot shower you can aid in the loosening of earwax and let it exit your ear canal on its own, where you can simply wipe it away with a washcloth.
Check Your Hearing Regularly
Sometimes hearing loss starts so subtly that you don’t even know you have it. Even so, lack of self-awareness of the condition doesn’t mean you aren’t experiencing the negative side effects of hearing loss. Schedule appointments regularly, no matter your age. Hearing loss can happen to anyone.