One in ten Americans experience hearing loss (american-hearing.org). A huge range of factors can cause hearing loss, which affects 360 million people worldwide (who.int), but exposure to noise is one of the most common reason behind hearing loss.
This is likely because people often do not realize how exposed we are to noises that could affect our hearing on a daily basis.
Noise-induced hearing loss and who may be affected by it
Noise-induced hearing loss can be caused by frequent loud noise exposure over time or a singular, intense burst of noise. It can affect people of all ages, and has seen a significant rise with the advent of MP3 players and headphone usage. In fact, the number of teens experiencing hearing loss has increased 33% since 1994 (huffingtonpost.com).
It is important to remember, however, that no matter what your interests or lifestyle, noise-induced hearing loss is something that can affect anyone.
Excessive noise – what to avoid or protect against
One-time exposure to a noise at 120 decibels could be enough to cause permanent hearing loss. That may seem like an abstract concept, but here are some common noises that fall within the 110-140 decibel range:
• Rock concerts
• Jet engines
• Nail guns
• Ambulance sirens
Even your home stereo speakers at maximum volume can reach worrying levels when it comes to hearing loss.
It is important to know about these issues, as most people do not consider the long-term impacts of daily exposure to loud noises – but once you are aware of the issues, then you can take steps to tackle it.
One-time exposure is considered to be one minute of exposure to these noises. While you may not often hear an ambulance for over a minute, a loud concert could definitely fall into that range – and then some!
Exposure over time to loud noises
Continuous exposure to noises over 85 decibels could be just as damaging, if not more so, than one-off exposures to loud bursts of noise.
In fact, noise-induced hearing loss is the most common workplace injury (usatoday.com). This is thought to be the case because many people working in moderately noisy jobs are unaware of the risks to their hearing.
Everyday noises that fall into the 85-100 decibel range include:
• Garbage trucks
• Power mowers
• Hair dryers
• Food processors
If you are exposed to these noises frequently, you could be at risk of permanent hearing loss. It is best to use hearing protection if you know you are going to be dealing with any of these items.
Tips on protecting your ears from hearing loss
• If you’re headed to a concert, make sure you bring earplugs and take breaks from the performance. Step outside for a breather and give your ears a rest. Hearing protection is always recommended!
• Avoid wearing in-the-ear headphones. As these types of headphones are positioned deep in your ear canal near the eardrum, they can increase risk to hearing loss. Listening to music at a high volume can cause permanent damage, and the lack of noise cancellation in many headphones would tempt anyone to turn the volume up. Go for noise-cancelling, over-the-ear headphones instead. (This article gives a good overview of the extent of the problem!)
• Talk to your hearing instrument specialist about your hearing loss. People take, on average, 7 years to treat their hearing loss, time in which they could be learning about how to prevent further hearing loss. It is best to deal with the issue head-on and see whether hearing aids would be the right fit for you.
How hearing devices can help
There is some good news! About 90% of hearing loss that is affected by excessive noise or aging – or both – can be treated through the use of hearing aids.
Hearing instruments have progressed significantly in recent years in terms of technology and ease within which you can incorporate them into your lifestyle. Bluetooth technology allows users to connect hearing aids directly with their smartphones and other Bluetooth-enabled devices, and telecoils mean that you can often find hearing loops in public places, such as airports, churches and concert venues, that will enable you to link your hearing device directly with your surroundings.
There is also a huge range of styles available; many hearing instruments are designed to be incredibly discreet, and to work around your lifestyle.
Gulf Gate Hearing Aids
Contact our team of hearing instrument specialists today to find out how hearing aids may assist you and improve your life.
To schedule a free hearing test, give us a call at 941-922-5894 or visit us at 2170 Gulf Gate Drive Sarasota, FL.