We live in a noisy world. Booming populations and technological advances over the last 100 years, and even more so in recent decades, have created a world where our hearing is put to the test each day as we go about our lives.
Vehicles on the roads, planes and helicopters flying through the air, common household tools and appliances, electronics of all kinds, machinery on the job and more contribute to the ever-growing assault on hearing. Just stop for a minute and listen, you may be surprised at just how much background noise we have learned to tune out. This constant and growing level of noise isn’t just an annoyance when we hear it. Over long periods of time, it can permanently damage the inner workings of our ear and cause irreversible hearing problems.
According to research, “noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) is thought to be one of the major causes of preventable hearing loss. Approximately 10 million adults and 5.2 million children in the US are already suffering from irreversible noise-induced hearing impairment and thirty million more are exposed to dangerous levels of noise each day.” These numbers are staggering!
It’s not always easy to pinpoint the hazard, either. In one study on hearing loss and exposure to noise, researchers found that while “Gender and occupation were most strongly related to exposure…most participants in this study had occupations that are not conventionally considered noisy.”
There is no doubt that it’s time to take action to protect our hearing in a noisy world. These steps can help you prevent hearing loss and associated symptoms such as ringing or buzzing in the ears (tinnitus):
- Minimize exposure to loud noise
Be aware of the noise in your environment. Turn down the volume on televisions and radios, discuss preventive measures available to reduce noise on the job and check the noise rating on new tools and appliances you purchase. If possible, consider upgrading some of your existing tools and appliances to quieter models. Many experts consider prolonged exposure to anything over 85 decibels to be dangerous for hearing.
- Invest in hearing protection
In some cases, exposure to loud noise is unavoidable. Whether it’s on the job at a construction site, mowing the lawn or going to see live music, take precautions to protect your hearing. Ear plugs, ear molds and similar devices can help minimize noise without sacrificing all sound. Discuss options with your hearing healthcare provider to determine what will work best for your needs.
- Monitor your hearing
More often than not, hearing loss is gradual and hard to detect except with the help of a professional. Unfortunately, even the smallest amount of hearing loss is permanent. Get regular screenings to monitor your hearing and any changes that may be linked to noise exposure or other common factors such as medication.
It’s a noisy world, but that doesn’t mean your hearing has to suffer. Take steps now to protect your hearing for the future. Visit our office for more information on preventing hearing loss, monitoring your hearing with regular screenings and hearing aids to help you hear clearly after hearing loss.