Hearing loss affects almost a third of people. This is often the result of us mistreating our ears. Many of us don’t think much about our sense of hearing when we’re young – it’s when we’re older that the damage starts to show. Conversations become harder as we have to strain to hear people or tell people to repeat things. In some case, whole frequencies can be lost – you may never hear the sound of birdsong again.
If you want to keep onto your sense of hearing, here are some of the key precautions you should take.
Stay safe at work
If you’re workplace is noisy and ear protection is provided, you’d be wise to wear this safety equipment. Airports, rock concert venues, shooting ranges and construction sites are some of the main work environments in which noise regularly exceeds 85 decibels. Above this volume, permanent hearing loss can start to set in when exposed to a constant noise.
Many employers will supply this equipment but may not enforce that it should be worn. Other people may not be wearing it – and you may feel uncool for being the only one with ear protection – but don’t let this peer pressure persuade you into not wearing safety gear. It’s provided for a reason and if you don’t wear it, there’s no question about it, you will suffer from hearing loss.
Turn down the volume
Many of us play music too loudly. Phones and MP3 devices are now able to tell listeners when they’re listening to music at an unhealthy volume on headphones. Try to keep the volume below this limit for regular listening. Meanwhile, if you regularly turn up your music to drown out the sound of your car engine when travelling along a highway, you too could be damaging your ears as this is likely to be above the safe decibel limit.
Give your ears a rest
It’s possible in some cases to repair damage to the ears by taking a break from loud sounds. If you’ve been clubbing the night before or been to a concert, try to avoid loud sounds the day after to help your ears recover.
Don’t use cotton buds
Cotton buds are often used for clearing out earwax, but growing research shows that they could be damaging our hearing. This is because they push wax further into the ear, sometimes damaging the eardrum. You can clear out your ears effectively with hot water, either whilst in the shower or bath. This will cause less damage.
Take action against hearing loss early
The moment you start to notice hearing loss, it’s worth going to a specialist who can diagnose whether you need a hearing aid. This hearing technology will allow you to hear sounds at a normal volume. This could dramatically improve your lifestyle by allowing you socially interact more responsively, but it could also save your ears from further damage.
Many people with hearing loss will compensate for their impairment by turning up the volume of their TV or music. This could result in you listening to music and TV above the healthy volume limit without you realising, causing more progressive damage.