When we think of hearing loss, we typically think of senior citizens who experience a degradation in their hearing because of their age. The truth of the matter is that hearing loss can affect anyone; in fact, two-thirds of people who experience this are under the age of 65.
There are many factors that can cause hearing loss including infectious diseases, chronic ear infections, head injuries, fluid in the ears, or even the use of certain medications, according to the World Health Organization. But something that most healthy people experience on a daily basis is wreaking havoc on our hearing: exposure to excessive noise.
What is excessive noise?
The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders tells us that exposure to sounds at or above 85 decibels can cause hearing loss. What does that mean to the average person who doesn’t carry around a device that measures decibels? The NIDCD breaks it down for us:
- Regular conversations: 60 – 70 decibels
- Movie theaters: 74 – 104 decibels
- Motorcycles and dirt bikes: 80 – 110 decibels
- Music in headphones (maximum volume), sporting events, and concerts: 94 – 110 decibels
- Sirens: 110 – 129 decibels
- Fireworks show: 140 – 160 decibels
Excessive noise can be a daily occurrence for those in professions that deal with machinery, heavy equipment, firearms, lawn care tools, music, or power tools. People who listen to music, podcasts, watch television shows or movies with the volume over 60% for at least an hour are also at risk of exposure to excessive noise.
The fact of the matter is that no one is immune to excessive noise, it can come from using a blender, listening to music while we work out, or cutting the grass. With the rise in technology, the exposure to prolonged and excessive noise is inescapable and the only way to prevent hearing loss is to be diligent in recognizing loud noises and protecting your ears.
How can I prevent hearing loss due to excessive noise?
The best method for preventing noise-induced hearing loss is avoiding situations that exceed 85 decibels. We know that may not always be possible, or the most fun way to live your life, so when you do have to expose yourself to loud noises, be prepared with proper ear protection.
Ear protection can come in many shapes and forms such as earplugs, ear molds, noise-canceling headphones, earmuffs, or wadding materials. Choose which protection method is most suitable and comfortable for your needs and make sure that they are handy. Keep a set of earplugs right by the lawnmower or in your toolbox to remind you to wear them before using a noisy tool. Keep another set in your glovebox so they are handy when you go to your next concert or sporting event.
Hear Well Stay Vital also reminds us to keep the volume on our headphones no higher than 60% for no longer than 60 minutes. This will reduce prolonged exposure to loud noises and help save your ears for your next workout or binge session.
It is also very important to receive a regular hearing test as a part of your annual preventative medical regimen. Hearing tests are quick and painless, and accurately diagnose any auditory issues you may be unknowingly experiencing.
What are the symptoms of noise-induced hearing loss?
Unfortunately, damage caused by excessive noise is typically gradual and may be easy to overlook. The best way to determine if it’s time for a hearing exam is to listen to your loved ones if they believe you are suffering from hearing loss, it is certainly time to get tested.
The NIDCD has put together a list of the most common signs of noise-induced hearing loss so that you may know what to look for.
- Sounds are distorted or muffled
- People are difficult to understand in normal conversation
- Turning up the volume on the television
- Tinnitus (ringing, buzzing, or roaring in the ears)
- Temporary hearing loss that disappears after 16-48 hours
What do I do if I have noise-induced hearing loss?
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is time for a hearing exam. Hearing exams are quick and painless and can quickly determine the best solution for your hearing loss. Most commonly, hearing aids are the best solution for protecting the hearing that you still have while amplifying the sounds that you are currently having problems hearing.
Hearing aids now come in a variety of styles, colors, and designs. They are now designed to work with and for you and come with a huge selection of accessories to enhance your experience even more.
After you are tested, a hearing aid expert will walk you through your options and ensure that your choice is the best fit for your needs and desires. Not only will you be able to hear much more clearly and concisely with your new hearing aids, but 8 out of 10 wearers say that hearing aids have vastly improved their quality of life.
Schedule a hearing exam at one of our Beltone locations today and overcome noise-induced hearing loss.