Ways To Avoid Hearing Loss Before It’s Too Late
“Did you know that approximately 5.2 million children and adolescents aged 6-19 have noise-induced hearing loss.” (CDC, retrieved 2013)
You know hearing is important as it allows us to communicate and socialise with friends and family. Many of us lack the awareness about the prevalence of hearing loss, but it is a real problem. It is extremely vital to care and protect your hearing while you are young – because once it’s damaged, it is irreversible.
What you’re not aware of is this – your hearing can be affected after a short burst of loud or explosive noise or being exposed to loud noises for an extended period of time, such as firecracker explosions and standing by the speakers at a night club. If you frequently spend time in a noisy place or listen to extremely loud music very often, you could be potentially losing your hearing without even realising it.
With that being said, it’s good to start taking precautionary efforts while you’re young and healthy.
HOW DO I GAUGE
Here’s a quick guide that shows typical types of noise level, measured in decibles (dB). According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), if you have to endure noise levels above 105dB for more than 15 minutes each week, your hearing can get damaged. Lower levels of noise between 80dB and 90dB can damage your hearing if you’re exposed to them for hours every day.
- Leaves rustling: 20dB
- Whisper: 40dB
- Normal conversation: 60-65dB
- Busy city traffic: 75-85dB
- Lawn mower: 85dB
- Hairdryer/forklift truck: 90dB
- Hand drill: 98dB
- Heavy lorry (about seven metres away): 95-100dB
- MP3 player (full volume): 100dB
- Motorbikes: 100dB
- Cinema: some films regularly top 100dB during big action scenes
- Rock concert/disco/nightclub/car horn: 110dB
- MP3 player on loud: 112dB
- Chainsaw: 115-120dB
- Plane taking off: 120dB
- Rock concert/ambulance siren: 120dB
- Fireworks/gunshots: 140dB
You will need to identify the two main factors that contribute to hearing loss – how loud and length of time. Perpetual exposure to noise at or above 80 to 85dB over a long period of time can cause loss of hearing.
These dangers are just as serious at an open-air music festival as they are in an indoor nightclub. Action on Hearing Loss recommends wearing reusable earplugs for music, standing away from the speakers and taking regular breaks from the loudest areas.
How do you know when to remove yourself from an environment that is damaging to your ears. A quick rule of thumb is – if you aren’t able to speak to someone approximately two metres away without having to shout, the noise level is hazardous.
HOW DO I PROTECT MY HEARING
#1 Wear ’em Earplugs
If you can’t avoid loud noises at music festivals and concerts, you should always protect your ears with earmuffs or earplugs. They reduce sound levels by about 15 to 35 decibels, and would not ruin your experience. Here’s a little heads-up, tissue and cotton ball aren’t as effective.
#2 Keep The Dial Low
Turn down the dial to a moderate level when listening to music. Don’t try to drown out background noises by increasing the level. For a quick gauge, set the volume at a level whereby you still can hear someone speak (not shout) to you at arm’s length or use the 60:60 rule – listen to your music at 60% of the maximum volume for no more than 60 minutes a day.
#3 Put On Your Headphones
When listening to your personal music player, choose noise-cancelling headphones, or go retro with older muff-type headphones. These block out background noise and allow you to have the volume lower. Ear-bud style headphones and in-the-ear headphones are less effective at drowning out background noise. Try to take regular breaks from your headphones, though, to give your ears a rest.
#4 Try Going On A Noise Detox
Just like how your body needs rest, so does your ears. After being exposed to loud noises, give your ears time to recover. According to experts, after spending about two hours in 100dB sound at a night club or concert, 16 hours of rest is needed for your ears to recover.
#5 Reduce Noise Pollution At Work
If you work at a location that exposes you to loud noise pollution, don’t just bear with it. Speak to your manager or the Human Resource (HR) department to ask for advice on decreasing the noise level or getting yourself the necessary hearing protection.
Disclaimer. TELEME blog posts contains general information about health conditions and treatments. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. The information is not advice and should not be treated as such.
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