7 Tips To Prevent Noise-Induced Hearing Loss
Noise-induced hearing loss can be caused by extremely loud bursts of sound, or exposure to loud noise over a long period of time. For instance, someone who spends a lot of time in a woodworking shop, who hunts, or drives a truck may have long-term exposure to loud sounds.
Noise exposure can cause damage to the hair cells involved in hearing, and to the auditory nerve itself. The ‘stuffy’ feeling that we experience for hours or days after significant noise exposure is now believed to be a symptom of permanent damage to our hearing. While the ringing and stuffiness go away over time, changes to the hearing system have occurred that seem to compound over time as we are exposed to more noise. In extreme cases, exposure to extremely loud sound like gunfire, aircraft engines, motorcycles and power tools can result in immediate and permanent hearing loss. Read on for some of our favorite tips to prevent noise-induced hearing loss:
- Make “hearing health” a part of your lifestyle. Stay away from loud or prolonged noises when you can. Turn down the music volume. If you use power tools, use appropriate hearing protection such as earmuffs or plugs.
- When you must be around noise, either at work or at play, use hearing protection. Hearing protection devices can be purchased in drugstores and hardware stores. Your audiologist can also help create a custom set of ear plugs. Follow the directions to insert earplugs properly. Loosely fitting earplugs and impromptu plugs made of tissue or cotton are not effective hearing protection.
- Keep your hearing protection handy and in good condition. If you see signs or flyers warning of loud noise, proactively wear your hearing protection.
- Move or stand as far away as you can from the source of the sound, especially if you are with children. If a speaker is blasting loud sound, move away and to the side of the speakers until you are more comfortable.
- Limit the length of time you are exposed to loud sounds. Generally, if you have to raise your voice to make yourself understood, or if you find yourself speaking directly into a friend’s ear to be understood, the noise level is high enough to cause damage to your hearing.
Teach your family how important it is to stay away from too much noise and encourage them to use hearing protection as well. If you think you or someone in your family may have a hearing loss, schedule a hearing test to establish a baseline and learn more about your hearing.