Most medical issues are complicated; hearing problems, by contrast, are pretty simple. In the majority of cases, they are caused by – you guessed it – prolonged exposure to loud sounds.
Sadly, modern living is decidedly noisy. Whereas most of man’s history lacked engines, machines, and amplified music, today’s life exposes us to a never-ending parade of loud sound. Some of that is lifestyle – living in a urban environment, a love of rock music, flying frequently. For many others, it’s their jobs: merely a week as a firefighter, police officers, factory worker, farmer, construction worker, musician, or in the military or heavy industry can damage your hearing.
Your first move? Do all you can to protect the hearing you have right now. The first batch of tips are common sense – protect yourself from loud noises. But they may be the hardest to take action on: Many people worry that earplugs and hearing aids make them look old or silly, but with the latest technology hearing aids at least, are smaller than ever. You can hardly even notice someone is wearing them. Also with the rise of cell-phone usage and portable music devices, there’s hardly any adult – or teenager – who doesn’t have ear gear of some type. No one notices if you have a hearing aid or sound blocking tool in your ear.
Here are 7 things you can do today to help protect your hearing now and for the future.
Buy earplugs and keep them in your home, garage, car, and purse
Wear them when you’ll be exposed to any sound over 85 decibels – such as lawn equipment, a loud concert, a wedding or social event with loud music, an afternoon hunting or target-shooting, even time in a loud health club. Don’t rely on cotton balls or bits of paper stuffed in your ears; they’ll only screen out about 7 decibels of sound, while foam earplugs can block up to 32 decibels. Need more protection? Look into custom-made earplugs from an audiologist, or special sound-deadening earmuffs.
Love your headphones? Ask a friend if they can hear the music, too.
Your tunes are turned up too loud if others can hear the sounds from your earbuds or headphones. And only listen to music piped directly into your ears for about 1 ½ hours per day at normal volume – just 5 minutes at top volume, suggest University of Colorado at Boulder researchers. Beyond that, you can cause hearing loss.
Change seats at a noisy event
If it’s too loud where you are – at a concert, meeting, or social event – move. Do the same if you can’t hear someone who’s just two feet away, if you have to raise your own voice to be heard, or if the sounds around you begin to seem muffled. Again, there’s nothing old-fashioned about removing yourself from overly loud situations. In fact, your conversation mates will be grateful.
Wear Earplugs on holidays celebrated with a bang, too.
Fireworks and loud, booming rockets are a staple of holiday events around the world. Enjoy them to the fullest – with your eyes. Meanwhile, keep earplugs firmly in place in your ears.
Keep earplugs on your bedside table.
A small Canadian study found that bedmates of snorers suffered hearing loss in the ear closest to the person making all that night noise. Snoring can reach 80 decibels – as loud as someone yelling for help – or even 90 decibels – equivalent to truck traffic.
Get a med check
Many prescription and nonprescription medications can damage the ear and cause hearing loss. These include high doses of aspirin, anti-malaria drugs, and antibiotics, including erythromycin, vancomycin, tetracycline, gentamicin, and streptomycin.
Ask about earwax
Sometimes, hearing loss is simply the result of a gradual accumulation of earwax. It can block the ear canal and prevent the transmission of sound waves. Ask your doctor to check your ears and remove any buildup.
Check back for my next blog post when I will reveal 7 more ways you can prevent hearing loss right away!
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