If you’ve noticed your hearing is starting to fail, don’t worry, you’re not alone. 48 million Americans (20%) report some degree of hearing loss, including 30% of people over 65 and almost half of those over 75 years old. Some of us are born with a genetic condition, but others suffer injury, illness, or damage that deteriorate hearing over time. The human ear contains thousands of tiny cells that contribute to the frequency, tone, and volume we hear. Over time, those cells are exposed to many sounds that cause them to die off, mainly when sounds are over 85 decibels. The good news is, this sound damage is entirely preventable and treatable by an audiology specialist like myself. Follow these tips to prevent noise-induced hearing loss and promote happy and healthy listening.
EVALUATE SURROUNDING SOUNDS
Some of the most common causes of hearing loss are the everyday sounds we encounter. Occupational noise, repetitive sounds, and long periods of noise all threaten one of our most valuable senses. Many people are subject to loud sounds for long periods, without really thinking about it. Take a look at common noise pollutants you may not have considered.
- Loud TV viewing
- Concerts and movies
- Construction work
- Active military duty
- Factory work
- Lawn equipment
- Vacuum cleaners
- Power tools
- Motorcycles and other vehicles
- Dental work
And all of us are subject to sudden loud sounds that can be unavoidable. These include things like fireworks, ambulances, telephones ringing, gunshots, explosions, alarms, and car horns. We know a sound is too loud when it causes us to cringe or cover our ears- and this level of noise can cause immediate damage to the ear’s structure. But even face-to-face conversation and office activity can occur at over 85 decibels. Repetitive listening at even moderate volumes can erode hearing ability over time.
TAKE PROTECTIVE ACTION
As you can see, it’s impossible to avoid all the sounds that contribute to hearing loss. After all, the world is full of sounds, and most of it is quite beautiful. But to maintain the ability to hear your grandchild’s laughter, a symphony orchestra, and birds chirping in spring, we need to be proactive. Sudden loud sounds like gunshots and firecrackers can cause severe, and sometimes, permanent hearing loss. Even concerts and movies can cause immediate damage that can last for weeks, including muffled hearing and tinnitus.
Thankfully, there are several simple ways to prevent noise-induced hearing loss. When possible, avoid loud noises altogether. For example, skip loud concerts or take suitable hearing protection if you are to go. Pay attention if family members suggest your TV or music is too loud, as you may be hurting your ears without knowing.
When you know you will encounter loud sounds for a lengthy time, plan by bringing ear protection. But also keep protective ear wear handy since you never know when life will get noisy. I recommend setting volume controls on headphones and TVs to keep your decibel level safe. Many devices go to 105 decibels or higher and are not regulated for safe listening. Keep ear protection nearby in your home and car. Here are a few to try.
- ear defenders
- noise-canceling headphones
- personal protective equipment (PPE)
VISIT YOUR AUDIOLOGY SPECIALIST REGULARLY
The tricky thing about noise-induced hearing loss is it can creep up on us subtly, so we may not notice at first. You might find yourself turning the TV louder, or asking people to repeat themselves on the phone, assuming you have a bad connection. The danger is these adaptive techniques damage your hearing further. And the more we have to strain to hear, the more we begin to experience unpleasant side effects such as headaches and fatigue. Regular hearing screenings are the only way to measure damage and loss. We all have different hearing abilities, so it’s ineffective to compare your hearing to someone else’s.
Our specialists at Clarity Hearing can offer solutions that not only retain but also protect your hearing. Some people think that hearing aids are only for those who have a complete loss of hearing when, in reality, they can often prevent further hearing loss. We offer hearing aids in several discrete designs to fit your active lifestyle. Noise-induced hearing damage includes not only the loss of hearing but also tinnitus and muffled perception. Tinnitus is a frustrating, sometimes debilitating, side effect of noise-induced damage, and we specialize in tinnitus therapies.
To prevent and repair noise-induced hearing loss, you can trust my fantastic team at Clarity Hearing to address all of your concerns. We have helped over 1,000 patients protect and restore their valuable hearing. We offer convenient locations for residents of the Woodlands, Conroe, Cypress, and 249 & Spring Cypress areas, and we look forward to meeting you! Contact us today or request a callback and one of our team will get back to you as soon as possible.
Scott Marquardt is the owner of Clarity Hearing and a highly skilled audiologist who has been in practice for over 20 years. Dr. Marquardt earned a master’s degree in audiology from Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas, and a doctorate from A.T. Still University. He is a member of the American Speech Language Hearing Association and a fellow of the American Academy of Audiology. He and the team offer comprehensive hearing healthcare services and specialize in the care of tinnitus, imbalance, and auditory processing disorders.