Hearing loss is becoming more prevalent in today’s noisy world. The World Health Organization (WHO) predicts that by the year 2050, approximately 900 million people will have disabling hearing loss. This is a 94% increase from today’s incidence of hearing loss around the world. The common factors that are fueling this increase are an increase in world’s population, aging of the population and exposure to dangerous levels of noise. Exposure to noise and its damaging affects are usually preventable. The most common sources of harmful noise exposure are lawn/construction equipment, personal headphones/audio devices, loud work environments, rock concerts, medication side-effects and the persistence of illnesses that can cause hearing loss such as measles, mumps, rubella, diabetes, kidney disease and heart-disease.
So how can you protect your hearing? Here are some hearing protection tips:
- Wear hearing protection at work and home. There are many types of hearing protection so please consult a hearing health professional if you have questions which one is right for you. Not sure how loud is too loud? See this link from the Dangerous Decibels website: http://dangerousdecibels.org/education/information-center/decibel-exposure-time-guidelines/
- Use personal headphones for music at a safe listening level. It is recommended not to turn up your personal audio device to more than 50-60% of the total volume and to give your ears a break after 60 minutes of continuous listening. Also, if you cannot hear someone talking to you at 3 feet away with your headphones on or if they can hear the music from your headphones, they are turned up too loud and could be causing permanent damage to your hearing.
- Don’t smoke. Smokers can be up to 70% more likely to develop hearing loss according to a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Studies also show that nicotine interferes with neurotransmitters in the auditory nerve, which are responsible for telling the brain which sound you are hearing. Nicotine can also cause tinnitus, dizziness and vertigo. Smoking irritates the Eustachian tube and lining of the middle ear. Finally, smoking may also make you more sensitive to loud noises and therefore more susceptible to developing noise-induced hearing loss.
- Stay healthy. If you have been diagnosed with diseases like heart-disease, kidney disease and/or diabetes, you are at increased risk for hearing loss so pay close attention to changes in your hearing and get your hearing tested regularly.
- Ask your doctor if hearing loss is a side-effect of any medications you are taking.
- If you work in noise, have your hearing tested on a regular basis to monitor for any changes.
- Limit your exposure to loud music at concerts by wearing hearing protection earplugs. In addition, if you are a musician, consider getting specialized musician hearing protection earplugs to preserve your hearing while playing music.
If you notice a change in your hearing, even a slight one, do not delay in getting a complete hearing evaluation from a hearing healthcare professional like the caring staff at HearMD. We are always available to answer any questions about your hearing health so please do not hesitate to contact us at 856-602-4200 for an appointment.