There are so many rich and beautiful sounds in our lives. The sound of birds chirping, rain gently falling or our favorite song can be relaxing and even release endorphins. The power of sound fills us with joy and helps us stay connected to the ones we love.
However, there are some sounds that can be excessive. When the volume and length to exposure of sounds becomes too extreme, your hearing health becomes at risk. This phenomenon is referred to as noise induced hearing loss and can leave you with permanent hearing loss.
Noise Induced Hearing Loss
While age related hearing loss is the most common cause of hearing loss, people of all ages’ ears are at risk, due to noise induced hearing loss. When sounds surpass 85 decibels, they can damage the fragile hairs of your inner ear that help you hear, leaving you with irreversible hearing loss. It is not just the level of decibel but the length of exposure. For instance, many people listen to music on personal listening devices for hours on end.
Even at a moderately high volume your ears can suffer damage if you do not take listening breaks. When someone is exposed to excessive sound for 8 hours or more day after day, like in the instance of many workplace situations, your ears can sustain damage. Simultaneously, if you are exposed to a sudden and extremely high decibel level like in the instance of an explosion, your hearing can suffer damage quickly.
When Is Your Hearing at Risk?
While it is impossible to always anticipate when your hearing could be at risk, if you know you will be engaging in loud situations and environments you can plan ahead to protect your hearing.
If you work in a noisy environment like a construction site, factory or even crowded office it’s important to be aware of the decibel level and wear appropriate hearing protection at work. If you engage in noisy activities at home like mowing your lawn, riding motor bikes, or playing with fireworks, take the actions to protect your hearing so you don’t have to struggle with hearing loss in the future.
Side-Effects of Hearing Loss
Hearing loss not only makes it hard to hear your family, friends and co-workers, but has been linked to loneliness, anxiety, insomnia, self-isolation, brain atrophy, dementia and a higher instance of accidents that lead to hospitalization. Hearing loss erodes people’s sense of independence, affects their performance at work, often leading to lower earnings. These are just some of the ways that hearing loss becomes a quality of life issue.
Styles of Hearing Protection
There are many different types of hearing protection that offer different levels of protection and comfort styles. Most hearing protection can reduce decibels from 15-30 dB. It is important that your ears are protected while still being able to hear, so you can be aware of your environment. Depending on the action you can decide which hearing protection is best for you.
If worn correctly, foam earplugs can provide a moderate level of noise protection. They are affordable, reusable but disposable after a few uses and portable. It is easy to mis-wear foam earplugs in which these can be just as dangerous as wearing no hearing protection at all. For a more reliable model, wax earplugs create a more secure seal as they mold to your ear canal. Similar to foam in affordability and portability wax earplugs are a much safer alternative.
Earmuffs fit over your entire ear creating a reliable seal. Larger and less discrete than earplugs, earmuffs are great for very loud environments when your ears are at a higher risk, like a construction site or loud sports event.
Consistency is key
The more consistent you are with wearing hearing protection, the less risk you can be put in daily. Wear your ear protections proudly and make it a fashion statement as well as a safety measure. Encourage people around you to protect their ears too!
If you suspect your hearing has suffered damage it is important to seek treatment as soon as possible. Contact us to set up a hearing test, to find the best treatment to keep you hearing your best and enjoying life, doing the things you love!