Hearing loss is a general health concern for many people, and it can result from a number of different causes. The good news is that some types of hearing loss are preventable. With just a few small changes in habit and enlarged awareness, the effort to prevent hearing loss can have a big payoff in the future.
Hearing loss is a gradual and usual part of the aging process. However, excessive noise is still the primary cause. Permanent hearing loss can happen almost instantly with unprotected exposure to certain sounds.
To protect you from noise:
- Wear noise-cancelling headphones or solid earplugs if you use noisy equipment such as drills, lawnmowers, etc.
- If the sound level at work exceeds 85dB, decrease the noise level or wear hearing protection.
- Lower the volume of your television, stereo, and iPod. Take special care if you use headphones or earbuds.
- Be careful not to turn up your car stereo volume too loudly to compensate for noise from the engine or the wind.
- Wear custom noise filters or solid earplugs if you go to rock concerts or nightclubs, and don’t stand near loudspeakers.
To avoid damage from foreign objects:
- Don’t use cotton swabs to clean your ears. Doing so may push wax down onto your eardrum and can enlarge the production of wax and/or damage the eardrum.
- Avoid washing with unclean water to prevent ear infections.
What are decibels?
Decibels (dB) measure the intensity of sound: from 0dB, which is the faintest sound the human ear can detect, to the noise of a rocket during launch, which can exceed 180dB.
Experts typically consider exposure to more than 85dB to be dangerous, which means things like motorcycles, headphones, and lawnmowers have the potential to lead to permanent hearing loss.