Noise is all around us. It is at work, at school, at home, at the store, the soccer game and all the places in between. It is everywhere we go. It is almost impossible to avoid all sound and be in complete silence.
However, being around too much loud noise, like at concerts or fireworks shows, can severely damage your hearing – even cause complete hearing loss, and the thing with our hearing is that once it has gone, you generally can’t get it back. You can use some of the most effective hearing aids on the market, but it does not compare to ‘natural’, normal hearing.
How loud is too loud?
Generally speaking, the noise threshold that is considered safe is 85 decibels (dB). The problem is that a lot of the sounds that we are exposed to on a daily basis far exceed that. Not only that, but exposure to loud noise can also be prolonged as well, which only serves to make it worse.
To get an idea of noise levels:
Whispering: 30 dB
Normal conversation: 60 dB
Busy traffic: 70 -85 dB
Motorbike: 90 dB
Music at full volume in headphones: 100-110db
Plane taking off: 120 dB
(Stats taken from NHS.uk website)
Excess noise exposure is not the only cause of hearing damage. Other things that may contribute to hearing loss include injuries, diseases, and medication. Fortunately, there are things that you can do to protect your hearing and reduce the risks of hearing impairment. Let us take a look at some of them.
Use soundproof earplugs
A lot of exposure to excessively loud noise is in the workplace or recreational activities such as nightclubs and concerts. The best thing you can do for your hearing is to leave the situation if you think it is too loud, or you experience ringing or buzzing in your ears.
If leaving the situation or avoiding the noise is not possible, use hearing protection, such as soundproof earplugs. If you still need to be able to communicate or hear things at a more safe level, you can buy earmuffs that have radios or communication devices built into them, so you can still listen while keeping your ears safe.
Turn the music down
We all listening to music, and we all love having a good old blast of it, but it can hurt our ears – for good. The World Health Organization has stated that over one billion teenagers and young adults are at risk of hearing loss caused by excessive noise from audio devices. Don’t be one of them! If you listen to music through earbuds or headphones, try not to listen to it at more than 60 percent volume and for longer than an hour a day.
If you go to a loud party or nightclub, you should, according to Action on Hearing Loss, leave a minimum of sixteen hours rest to allow your ears to recover from two hours of 100 dB sound – no partying on consecutive nights if you want to keep your hearing intact!
Soundproof your house
So, full soundproofing in a standard house is probably a step too far, but you certainly should be thinking about the ways in which you can acoustically optimize your house. This means soft furnishings such as carpets and curtains in areas that get more noisy than others. As well as making your home more comfortable and protecting your hearing, it will also help build neighborhood relations – especially if you have kids that like to make a noise!
As we said above, while noise is the primary cause of hearing loss, it is not the only cause.
One of the main things to remember is to not insert or poke anything into your ear canal, ever! Many people use cotton swabs or buds to clean the wax out of their ears, but this is not advised. In fact, you may have heard of the saying ‘don’t insert anything smaller than your elbow into your ear’, and it is true. Ear wax is actually a good thing – it protects our delicate ear canals. If you are suffering from excess wax, however, it can cause blockages. You should never try and remove it yourself – go to your doctor or arrange an appointment with an audiologist who can use safe methods to remove it.
Hearing is something we often take for granted and only realize just how important it is when we start to lose it. Slow down or prevent hearing loss with the tips we have shared above.