You only get one set of ears in life. Your hearing is essential for all aspects of your life, from your social relationships to entertainment to career progression. Yet so many people take it for granted. You don’t realize what a valuable gift you have been blessed with until it is taken away from you. But a colossal 14.3% of Americans experience some form of hearing loss that impacts their life in myriad ways.
Losing your ability to hear may cause you to struggle to connect with your loved ones, impede your professional career, and reduce your enjoyment of life’s simple pleasures such as music and your favorite TV show. In the long term, hearing loss can also lead to feelings of isolation, low self-esteem, and depression.
It’s clear that your hearing is something to be cherished, yet so many people put their ears through hell on a daily basis. Whether you work in extremely noisy conditions without protection or you listen to music at full volume, you may not think it’s a big deal but you are punishing your eardrums and greatly increasing your chances of developing conditions such as hearing loss and tinnitus. Any noise above 70 decibels can cause damage to your hearing, which is roughly equivalent to the volume of city traffic from inside the car. When you consider the fact that listening to your music on loud is around 110 decibels, it’s clear that a change in behavior is needed.
So what can you do to protect your hearing? Here are five useful tips.
Avoid loud places
The most effective way of protecting your hearing is simply to spend less time in noisy places. Busy roads, nightclubs, concerts, and crowded venues are all too loud for our ears and could lead to severe damage if you frequent them too often. Going clubbing every now and then might be OK, but every night is doing vastly more harm than good. But how do you know if a noise is too loud? If you find yourself having to shout to be heard by other people, your ears hurt, or you experience a ringing sensation afterward, then it is without a doubt too loud. If you’re unsure, there are numerous smartphone apps that measure noise levels and allow you to know whether your hearing is at risk.
Use ear protection
If you work in a noisy environment such as a factory or music venue, your employer should be providing you with ear protection. This could come in the form of earplugs or ear protectors. If they don’t provide this, you should talk to them about or consider investing in your own. When visiting nightclubs or watching concerts, wear a pair of musicians earplugs that reduce the noise of the music without muffling it. You can guarantee that the musicians on stage will be wearing these too.
Turn the volume down
When you listen to music or watch TV, be mindful of the volume. Some people like to play songs at full blast, but this is one of the worst things you can do to your ears. Investing in a good pair of noise-canceling headphones will prevent you from needing to dial the volume up to block out background noise. Set it just high enough that you can hear the music comfortably but no more. It shouldn’t be higher than about 60% of the maximum setting. Even turning your volume down a tiny amount can make a tremendous difference to your risk of developing hearing loss.
Give your ears time to recover
When you subject yourself to loud noises, you are putting your ears under severe strain and they will need time to recover. If you’re at a concert, nightclub, or crowded bar, step outside every so often to get five minutes of silence. After a loud night out or a day of working in a noisy warehouse, researchers suggest that your ears need 16 hours of quiet to recover from the strain.
Get your hearing tested
Even if you are not currently experiencing problems with your hearing, it’s always a good idea to get your hearing tested. This way, an audiologist can take a look at your ears and your hearing capabilities and determine whether there are any issues to address. The earlier any problem is picked up, the more likely you will be to save your hearing. For most people without any problems, a hearing test every three to five years is enough, but if you work in a noisy environment you should get a check-up more regularly. Learn more about reducing hearing problems here.