Protecting your hearing is the most important step in preventing hearing loss.
Some forms of hearing loss, such as presbycusis – related to natural aging – are inevitable and cannot be prevented. But noise-induced hearing loss is now the leading cause of hearing impairment. Exposure to excessive noise damages the hair cells in the inner ear and causes irreversible hearing loss. The effects are cumulative over time, and often related to continuous exposure to music, machinery, power tools and other equipment. However, even a single loud gunshot or explosion at close range can cause sudden, permanent hearing damage. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to protect your hearing from this type of noise.
PROTECT YOUR EARS FROM NOISE-INDUCED HEARING LOSS
Excessive noise exposure can occur on the job (especially if you work in an industrial setting or use noisy equipment) or recreationally (rock concerts, sporting events, riding motorcycles or snowmobiles, etc.).
Proper earplugs and/or earmuffs are essential in these situations. Your employer must provide adequate hearing protection that meets state and federal regulations when noise levels in the workplace exceed safety thresholds. When taking part in noisy recreational activities, be sure to use earplugs. Custom molded plugs, available through your audiologist, work best.
Additionally you can take these steps to protect your hearing:
- Keep the volume turned down to a reasonable level while listening to music through headphones.
- Give up tobacco (studies show smokers are more prone to hearing loss, though the connection isn’t widely understood).
- Get your hearing tested regularly. Because hearing loss develops gradually and the signs can be difficult to spot early on, having your hearing tested annually can help pinpoint problems as soon as they develop, increasing your odds for successful treatment.