Your ability to hear is precious – once you lose it, the chances of getting it back in its natural form are slim to nil. But for some reason, hearing loss tends to go untreated and unchecked in the general population. In fact, permanent hearing loss impacts one in every eight people (nearly 30 million people) over the age of 12 in the United States alone.
While there are treatments that can help you regain your hearing, like hearing aids, it’s such a simple thing to protect your ears from the start to prevent unnecessary hearing loss.
Here are five simple ways that you can protect your hearing:
Don’t use earbuds
Earbuds are one of the biggest threats to hearing health today since they’ve come packaged with mobile devices going back to the first MP3 players in the early 2000s. Almost every smartphone on the market comes with a pair of these little devices that fit snugly in your ear and pump sound directly into your ear canal. Listening to music or a movie on your mobile device at full volume for just 15 minutes can cause permanent hearing loss. The better choice would be to buy a pair of earmuff-style headphones that go over your ears, which is made even better if you can find a pair that has noise-canceling technology. No matter what sound devices you use, you should follow the 60/60 rule – keep the volume at 60% and only use the devices 60 minutes per day.
Keep your volume low
Earbuds don’t produce the only sounds that can harm your hearing. Loud noises from a TV or radio can do as much damage if you consistently listen to them over a sustained period of time. You’ll also want to avoid situations where loud noises are constant, like construction zones, concerts, and firearm ranges…though avoiding these situations may only happen in a perfect world, especially if you’re a construction worker or a musician. If that’s the case, then you’ll want to pay attention to the next item on the list.
Use hearing protection
Hearing protection is essential if you work or enjoy hobbies that take place in a loud environment. 85 decibels over a period of 15 minutes is enough to cause hearing loss. To put that in perspective:
- Most concerts are between 100 and 120 decibels with headliners usually playing for about an hour and 20 minutes
- Jackhammers at a construction site produce 130 decibels, which could take their toll after a 40-hour workweek
- The average firearm discharge clocks in at 149 decibels, which is multiplied and amplified over the course of a one hour trip to an indoor gun range
The takeaway here is that you should invest in some sort of hearing protection like earmuffs or earplugs if you engage in any of these activities.
Take auditory breaks
Sometimes you just need to give your ears a break. If you engaged in any of the activities listed above, you should make sure to take some quiet time for yourself so your ears can rest and recover, even if you were using hearing protection. That means that you probably shouldn’t get into your car and start blasting loud music right after you leave a 3-hour concert.
Check your medicine
Your medicine can actually have a significant impact on your hearing. Aspirin, anti-inflammatories, antibiotics, and certain heart and cancer medications have all been proven to cause hearing loss. The good news is that medication-related hearing loss is not common and is more likely if you take two or more of those medications at the same time making it easier to prevent. However, you should check with your doctor or a hearing specialist to let them know what medications you’re taking and find out if they could have a negative impact on your hearing.