Noise pollution is fast becoming a major problem in our cities and towns. Construction sites are infringing on our neighborhoods, highways and airports add a lot din, and barking dogs, power tools, and blenders have transformed our homes into noisy places. To drown it all out, we often spend the whole day plugged in to our phones or personal listening devices, and fill our ears with even more sound.
Noise Induced Hearing Loss
According to the World Health Organization, excessive noise is a leading cause of hearing loss. Given the amount of noise we encounter every day, this isn’t so surprising. Noise induced hearing loss (NIHL) affects millions of Americans of all ages, and along with age-related hearing loss, is becoming a major problem. Noise pollution is also growing, and with increased housing density and traffic, it’s inevitable that our world is becoming a louder place.
Loud noises can do a lot more damage to your hearing than you might think, and while some sounds can safely be listened to for several hours, others can cause hearing loss in a matter of minutes. The louder the sound, the quicker it will damage your hearing, and some sounds are so loud that hearing loss can be instantaneous. Standing next to a jet engine about to take off, or firing a gun without hearing protection, will damage your hearing.
A crowded bar or a sports venue full of screaming fans can be so loud your ears can’t handle the noise for more than a few minutes, and if you listen to music through your headphones with the volume on high, you have less than an hour before the cells in your ear start to feel the stress of the noise. Other sounds, like your child’s school at recess, the leaf blower, or your kitchen blender are all loud, and add to the wear and tear your ears experience.
Protecting Your Hearing
Since noise-induced hearing loss is completely preventable, why do so many people lose their hearing due to noise? Sadly, not enough people are aware of the consequences of noise exposure, and aren’t taking the necessary steps to protect their hearing.
If you experience a lot of noise at home, at work, on your commute, or during leisure activities, take a moment to think about your hearing health. If you notice a ringing or buzzing in your ears, or feel like the sounds around you are muffled, it’s a clear sign that the noise is too loud. And if you have to yell to be heard by someone standing 3 feet away from you, you need to protect your hearing.
The best way to protect your hearing is to avoid exposing yourself to loud noises. Turn down the volume on your personal listening device, and buy quiet appliances. If you can’t remove yourself from the noise, then be sure to wear hearing protection. Foam earplugs are a good choice, since you can easily keep them in your bag or in your car, and pop them in when necessary. Just make sure you know how to insert them properly, so they’ll actually protect your hearing.
Other forms of hearing protection include digital ear plugs that will only block dangerous sounds, so you’ll be able to wear them all day and still be able to have conversations with your friends at the club or colleagues at work without risking your hearing health. Make sure you wear hearing protection whenever you’re out for the night, or when you’re operating power tools in your backyard. Adding these loud sounds onto the stress of noise pollution can damage your ears, even if you think the sounds aren’t so loud.
Finally, don’t underestimate the power of quiet. If you can dedicate a few hours every week to enjoying some peace and quiet, your ears will have a chance to rest and recover from all the noise exposure.
Lifestyle Hearing Solutions
If you’re worried you might have hearing loss, visit us at Lifestyle Hearing Solutions for a hearing test. We’ll determine your ability to hear in quiet and in noise, and shed some light on the cause of your hearing loss. As well as give your more tips to keep your hearing safe and avoid noise pollution, we’ll help you find the perfect hearing aids that will get you back to hearing, and have you enjoying all the wonderful sounds around you.