Noise-induced hearing loss: Three ways to prevent it
Despite being 100 percent preventable, noise-induced hearing loss remains the most common cause of hearing loss in America (next to aging). In fact, research published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed one in four (24 percent) of U.S. adults aged 20 to 69 years old has features of his or her hearing test in one or both ears that suggest noise-induced hearing loss.
This type of hearing loss is irreversible and comes as a result of prolonged exposure to loud noise. While the type of noise can include explosions and gunfire, it also can include consistent exposure to loud music or machinery, putting people like factory workers, mechanics, and even music teachers at risk.
Although there are treatment options to improve quality of life with noise-induced hearing loss, prevention is the best and most important first step.
Here are a few easy ways you can protect your hearing:
1. Reduce the noise level at its source.
Avoid listening to music with headphones at high levels. As technology continuously develops and sound quality improves, it’s important we take extra care and notice of the levels of music we consume. It is recommended to listen to music at just 60 percent of the maximum volume, which can typically go beyond 100 decimals.
2. Distance yourself from the source of the noise.
Sometimes this means removing yourself from places where the noise levels are too high. Think live sporting or music events, fireworks, etc. How do you know what is considered too much noise? If you find yourself having to yell in order to speak with someone in close proximity, the noise levels are likely too high. This may mean choosing certain recreational activities based on how noisy they are, or coming prepared with noise reducing products like earplugs.
3. Utilize hearing protection.
Earplugs can be a great way to protect your hearing while continuing to enjoy some recreational activities that include high noise levels. This can limit your exposure to potentially damaging sounds. There are many different kinds of earplugs that can help you hear what you want to hear while protecting your hearing from damaging noise. For examples, hunting hearing aids heighten ambient sounds allowing hunters to hear their surroundings much better than they would with their naked ears. In addition, these aids protect hearing by reducing the volume of loud sounds (e.g. gunshots).
Many cases of hearing loss are not reversible. Awareness and prevention are your best tools for taking care of your hearing and not putting it at risk.