According to 2016 statistics from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), 15 percent of all American adults report having some trouble hearing. That adds up to allot of people who struggle with hearing loss – that adds up to almost 38 million people over the age of 18. There are estimated 28 million people in the United States could benefit from wearing hearing aids, but the vast majority of those never try them. Though age is a factor, noise-induced hearing loss among people of all ages has revealed itself as a majorly concerning issue.
Know the signs of hearing damage
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports an estimated 22 million Americans are exposed to hazardous noise levels at work on a daily basis. While sensitivity to loud sound varies from person to person, prolonged exposure to noise levels over 80 decibels (dB) can cause permanent harm to hearing. And the higher the noise level means the greater the risk of hearing loss. However, prolonged exposure isn’t the only way loud sounds can damage hearing. Exceptionally loud noises of short duration, like firing a gun or an explosion, can cause irreversible hearing loss. Knowing the signs that your hearing might be in danger and being prepared is important to protect your ears. If a situation feels too loud, it probably is. Beyond that, watch for these signs:
- When you need to raise your voice to be heard
- When you are unable to hear someone three feet away from you
- Speech around you sounds muffled after leaving a noisy place
- You experience pain or ringing in your ears (tinnitus) after being in a noisy place
Aside from the occasional noisy restaurant, loud concert or fireworks display, other routine, everyday sounds can be problematic, too. While typical conversation, the dishwasher and clothes dryer all maintain a moderate noise level, busy traffic, an alarm clock, the vacuum cleaner, a blow dryer and a blender all operate at very loud levels, anywhere from 80-90 dB. Additionally, a passing motorcycle, hand drill, gas lawn mower or MP3 player can produce sound levels topping 110 dB.
Protect your ears
Unfortunately, we live in a noisy world and sometimes; exposure to potentially damaging sound levels is unavoidable. There are several professions, which can put you at risk for hearing loss on a daily basis, such as construction or factory workers. In fact, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, occupational hearing loss is the most commonly recorded occupational illness in manufacturing. The good news is there are numerous precautions available for people who work in a noisy environment. There are several types of hearing protection available, from low-cost, low-tech foam or wax to high-tech, high-end noise cancellation devices. When you work in a noisy place, understand your rights, your employer’s responsibilities and your responsibilities.
- You can also use the technology of your smartphone to help you measure the loudness of your environment with several easy-to-use apps.
- Never turn your music up to drown out other sounds. Instead, use sound-isolating or noise-canceling headphones, which block out sounds from the outside so you can listen to your music at a comfortable and safe level.
- Wear hearing protection while at concerts and other loud events, while mowing the lawn, setting off fireworks or participating in recreational activities like shooting, motorcycling and snowmobiling.
- Walk away. If you’re at a loud concert or some other event without hearing protection, take a break. Always maintain a safe distance from speakers and give yourself hearing breaks.
- Simply turn down the volume. If you know you’re prone to listening to music that is much too loud, just turn the volume down a few notches.
Rincalina Hearing Center
If you are living with hearing loss, you can prevent it from getting worse. Beyond that, there is so much you can do this new year to improve your hearing. Contact us at Rincalina Hearing Center to set up hearing test. A hearing test can reveal exactly what type and degree of hearing loss you have. We can find the best solutions for you, including hearing aids or other assistive listening devices. If you’ve been putting off getting hearing aids, there is no time like right now to try them out.