4 Ways to Protect Your Hearing in 2018

4 Ways to Protect Your Hearing in 2018

With the new year, we all look forward to a fresh start with our goals and projects. According to different surveys, such as SurveyMonkey, a majority of the resolutions for 2018 are to save money or get healthy. If your resolutions fall into either of these categories, add hearing health to the list! Protecting your hearing health helps you save money and is an important part of your overall health and well-being. Here, we offer you four easy ways to protect your hearing in 2018.

Switch to Noise-Canceling Headphones

Though they are convenient and unobtrusive, earbuds are actually very dangerous to your hearing. With new wireless earbuds on the market, it may be tempting to make the switch to these devices, but it may be at the risk of your hearing health.

Earbuds are positioned deep in your ear canal, close to the eardrums. As a result, whatever sounds you stream will appear much louder than they are. This is due to the anatomy of the ear. Noise levels can rise to the equivalent of listening to a drill in a coal mine – loud enough to damage your hearing in just a short amount of time. Furthermore, earbuds don’t do a good job blocking out external noise. In other words, people who wear earbuds in noisy public spaces tend to crank up the volume on their devices and earbuds in order to listen to the music or podcasts or other media. Combined with the proximity to the eardrums, earbuds could do serious damage to your hearing, with the potential of permanent noise-induced hearing loss.

The solution: Switch to noise-canceling headphones. Though they are a bit bulkier, they do a great job at keeping out the external noises of your environment, which means you don’t have to listen to music at the max volume. Even better, follow the 60-60 rule prescribed by hearing specialists: listen to music at 60% volume for no more than 60 minutes at a time.

Use Custom Ear Protection

Whether on the job or in your leisure time, you are exposed to various levels of noise all day. If you live in a city, the threat of noise pollution is very real. While most industries that are noisy provide employees with customized hearing protection, other industries that seem less likely culprits of hearing loss do not. For example, hair stylists and elementary school teachers do not often have to think about hearing loss as an occupational hearing hazard – but both professions do expose people to potentially dangerous levels of noise.

In your leisure time, whether you are a fan of live rock music or you enjoy DIY-construction projects, incorporate custom ear protection in your activities. Exposure to loud noise could lead to permanent hearing loss, over a gradual period of time.

The solution: You can find ear protection online, which is custom-fitted to your ear with custom earmolds and filters out dangerous levels of sound, while still giving you access to the sounds you want to hear. At the very least, carry around foam earplugs if you need them in a pinch!

Eat a Balanced & Nutritious Diet

As a medical condition – the third most common one in the US – hearing loss is linked to other parts of your life. Studies have shown that diets rich in omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals all support healthier hearing. One study found that adults who eat several servings of fish a week actually performed better on hearing tests, compared to those who did not.

Your inner ear environment is a sensitive place, supplied with nutrients and oxygen by small blood vessels. Keeping down cholesterol and high blood pressure levels is an important part of your hearing health.

The solution: Pay attention to the nutrients in your diet! Make sure to incorporate leafy greens, fruits, and foods rich in antioxidants into your diet to support your hearing health.

Get Your Hearing Tested

Schedule an annual hearing test with us at Hearing Consultants. Hearing tests are painless and simple, and they provide you with important information on your current hearing abilities. Even if a hearing loss is not detected, or even if you don’t think you have a hearing loss, it is important to have an annual hearing test, just to keep tabs on your abilities. This provides us good background information in the event that your hearing abilities shift in the future.

The solution: Schedule a hearing test with us at Hearing Consultants today! At Hearing Consultants, we provide comprehensive hearing exams. Don’t forget to include hearing health in your 2018 goals! To schedule an appointment, get in touch with us today.

Everyday Noises that May Harm Your Hearing

Everyday Noises that May Harm Your Hearing

When we think of sounds that could seriously harm our hearing, we may think very loud sounds, such as a jet engine taking off or non-stop drilling on a sidewalk. We may not think of sounds we encounter in everyday life. However, everyday noises can harm our hearing if we are exposed long enough. Here, we take a look at noise-induced hearing loss, dangerously loud decibel levels, and protecting your hearing.

Understanding Noise-Induced Hearing Loss

What’s the difference between noise-induced hearing loss and every other kind of hearing loss? Noise-induced hearing loss is the only hearing loss that is 100% preventable. Other kinds of hearing loss – such as presbycusis (age-related hearing loss) or congenital (present at birth) hearing loss – occur naturally beyond our control. However, noise-induced hearing loss occurs when we are exposed to loud sounds, either in a one-time event or over a gradual period of time.

Exposure to loud sounds damages the tiny hair cells of our inner ear. Hair cells are responsible for translating sound waves into neural signals that are then recognized by the brain as sound. These cells do not regenerate once they are damaged, which leads to permanent sensorineural hearing loss. If left untreated, sensorineural hearing loss could adversely affect our cognitive abilities and increase the risk for developing dementia, according to a series of studies from Johns Hopkins University.

When do Decibels get Dangerous?

How do we know when sounds are too loud? In some instances, the immediate pain and discomfort may be obvious. If you’ve ever stood too close to a speaker at a live venue, you may have experienced immediate discomfort. Generally, the rule is that if you are standing arm’s length away from someone and cannot hear them speaking, then the environment you are in is too loud.

Hearing specialist indicate that noises over 90 decibels should not be experienced for more than an hour at a time. The louder the sound, the less exposure time it takes to cause permanent hearing loss. To put this into context, most conversations average at 65 decibels, while the rustle of leaves is around 20 decibels and a live rock concert at its loudest can hit 150 decibels. Anything over 110 decibels is almost immediately harmful to your hearing.

Everyday Noises that May Harm Your Hearing

Let’s begin with the morning and move through the day. When you first wake up, do you dry your hair with a hairdryer? Hairdryers, though we don’t use them for long periods of time, could cause hearing damaged if used with enough frequency. In fact, hair stylists are at risk for hearing loss due to these short but loud bursts of sound. Switch to a lower power level for a hair dryer – which means they are quieter – or use earplugs when you’re drying your hair.

On your morning commute, do you take public transportation or drive? If you’re on the bus or train, it’s likely that you use earbuds to listen to podcasts or music. Earbuds create dangerous noise conditions in your ears and could lead to permanent hearing loss. Instead, switch to noise-canceling headphones. If you drive to work, make sure you’re not listening to music or radio at top volume in your car. The enclosed space with loud noises could be harmful to your hearing.

On the weekends, if you’re gardening or doing DIY-construction projects, you may be exposed to the loud sounds of gardening vehicles or power tools (120 to 150 decibels). Vacuum cleaners clock in at 70 decibels, while lawnmowers average 90 decibels and chainsaws are around 100 decibels. Make sure to protect your ears by using earplugs or custom ear protection during these projects. If you hunt (120 to 160 decibels) for leisure or attend live music events (110 to 150 decibels), it’s also important to bring earplugs or custom ear protection. These activities expose you to incredibly high levels of sound.

Protect Your Hearing

As Joni Mitchell cautions in her hit song, “Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you got ‘til it’s gone?”

The same can be said of your sense of hearing. We rely on our hearing for many different faculties and processes throughout the day, and because it is an invisible sense, we do not often pay attention to how our daily activities affect our hearing.

Taking small steps to recognize dangerously loud sounds and protecting our hearing from them is an important part of maintaining optimal hearing health. You can get fitted for custom ear protection, or simply carry around a pair of foam earplugs. With custom ear protection, there are different levels of protection designed for different activities. Musicians – professional or amateur – will appreciate the way custom ear plugs filter out the dangerous volumes while still providing access to the music. Hunters’ earplugs allow folks to remain connected to the sounds of nature, while protecting them from the bursts of gunshots.

Get Your Hearing Tested

The best way to maintain your hearing health is to get your hearing tested annually. Even if a hearing loss is not detected, we keep your records on file as reference. To schedule a hearing test or to learn more about noise-induced hearing loss, contact us today at Hearing Consultants.