How to Prevent Noise-Induced Hearing Loss
There are several different causes for hearing loss, but one of the most prolific is continued exposure to loud noise.
When the ear is exposed to sounds in excess of 85 decibels, hair cells in the inner ear can be harmed. These hair cells are an integral part of the hearing system, and when they begin to deteriorate or die, they cannot be replaced. With prolonged exposure to harmful levels of sound, and more and more hair cells dying, a condition known as noise-induced hearing loss (or NIHL) can develop. In most cases, the condition is permanent.
However, it is possible to prevent NIHL to an extent by following these tips:
Use hearing protection
If you know that you are going to be attending an event or engaging in a hobby, that will expose your ears to over 85 decibels, using hearing protection is a must. From earbuds to earmuffs, there are plenty of different hearing protection options – all of which offer their own pros and cons. An audiologist can advise you on which type of hearing protection may be suitable for your lifestyle.
Keep the volume turned down
Always keep the volume on any kind of media device – whether it’s your TV, smartphone or computer – as low as you possibly can. A good rule of thumb is to never use more than 60% of the total available volume. It’s also worth noting that many devices will warn you if the volume is turned up too loud, which can serve as a handy reminder.
Avoid using ear buds
If you are plugged in to a laptop, smartphone or similar device directly so that you can listen to music or watch a TV show, always use headphones rather than earbuds. Headphones are recommended because they cover the entire outer ear rather than sitting directly in the ear canal, as is the case with earbuds.
Give your ears the chance to rest
Giving your ears a chance to rest after exposure to loud noise is very beneficial to hearing health. If you attend a particularly loud event, such as a concert or motorsports meeting, then try to avoid exposure to other loud noise for a few days afterwards so that your ears have a chance to recover.
Take regular breaks
When it comes to NIHL, the length of time you are exposed to high levels of sound can also be a significant factor. It’s therefore worth making sure you take frequent breaks in order to give your ears the chance to rest; always take breaks when listening to music and, if possible, retreat to a quiet environment when attending a loud event.
Distance yourself from the source of loud noise
When attending a concert or party, stay as far away from the speaker system as you possibly can.
All the methods above can help to protect your hearing from harmful levels of sound and can play a key role in the prevention of noise-induced hearing loss.