The Importance of Hearing Loss Prevention
We live in a noisy, technologically-driven time. This begins with our alarm in the morning and can be followed by the sound of humming engines and public transport as we commute to work. After encountering sirens, horns, and construction work on the way, you might also work in a place that is surrounded by loud sounds. Even our leisure time can often be focused on noise. From sports events to live music concerts, our recreational activities have never before taken place in such loud environments.
This cacophony of sound has an impact on our health, especially in the form of noise-induced hearing loss.
What Is Noise Induced Hearing Loss
Noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) is caused by long-term loud sound exposure.
Sound is counted in decibels. When sound levels are below 70dB, even after repeated exposures, the inner ear is safe from damage. However, sustained sound exposure at or above 85dB can lead to hearing loss. To put it bluntly, the louder the sound, the less exposure you can get before hearing damage happens. Thousands of tiny hairs in your inner ear pick up sound signals around you. These signals are carried to the brain so that they can be analyzed as sound. When these hair cells are damaged due to exposure to noise, they cease to pick up the sounds anymore, and they do not replenish. The damage will be permanent.
Common Sources of Loud Noise
There are loud sounds everywhere, any source of loud noise can cause damage. Previously, attention has been paid to the harmful effects of NIHL in the workplace, and legislation was enforced to prevent workers from harming their hearing in noisy working environments. Now, the problem is more apparent in the way we spend our leisure time. The sounds that are more likely to cause damage can now even be found in your own home, as well as part of your hobbies you love doing.
Household appliances like food processors, hair dryers, and vacuum cleaners are some of the most common sources of noise in the household. Individuals may also be subjected to dangerous noise levels from DIY projects and gardening equipment, such as leaf blowers, lawnmowers, and power tools. We tend to use earphones louder than we intend to, mostly to drown out the noises around us. Earphones plugged into a smartphone at high volume can be as loud as a chainsaw! Moreover, extremely loud noises like gunshots can lead to sudden hearing loss, making hearing protection of the highest importance for any recreational pastime involving firearms.
Noise-induced hearing loss can occur in people from all walks of life. Just mowing your lawn or trimming your yard without custom hearing protection can put you at risk for noise-induced hearing loss.
It is also important for people who regularly expose themselves to loud noise to protect their hearing. This can include:
- Construction workers
- Nightclub workers
Here is a simple three step process for protecting your ears:
- Monitor the noise in your environment. There are several apps which monitor sound levels around you and let you know when you are entering an area of damaging noise.
- Avoid exposure to loud noise when possible. This might involve standing further away from the PA speakers during concerts and reducing the volume and length of time you use earbuds.
- When unable to avoid loud noise, use hearing protection. Sometimes, you won’t be able to escape the noise. At this point you can consider protecting your ears with quality, properly fitted hearing protection devices.
Custom Molded Ear Plugs
You may want to consider custom molded ear protection if you are regularly exposed to unsafe noise levels. They are fitted fully to the shape of your ear canal. This is done using a cast of your ear shape, which is used to create a silicone ear plug.
At Integrity Hearing Center, we are just as interested in hearing loss prevention as we are about hearing loss treatment, and that’s why we offer a range of custom hearing protection for any situation you may find yourself in. Contact us today for more information on our range of options.