If you have normal hearing, there’s a good chance you don’t think about your ears very often, but hearing helps you do just about every activity. From driving in your car to talking with your children. Hearing helps keep you safe and connected to the world around you. However, you might be making choices that damage your hearing over time that will leave you hard of hearing later in life.
October is National Protect Your Hearing Month a great time to take stock of the habits you might have that are hurting your hearing.
“The thing about hearing loss is before you have it, you think about it and associate it with not being able to hear music and stuff like that,” said Stephen, a GiveHear patient who wears hearing aids. “But what no one tells you is how it can be very demanding on your personal relationships,” Stephen explained.
Untreated hearing loss can make it incredibly difficult to carry on conversations with loved ones and participate at school and work. It can also lead to delayed language development, cognitive decline (like dementia!), risk of injury and unemployment.
“Taking small steps to protect your hearing when you are young can make a huge improvement on your hearing when you are older,” said Charlotte Thompson, an audiologist for GiveHear. “Simple things like turning your music down or standing further back from fireworks can prevent you from life-changing injuries to your ears,” said Thompson.
Noises louder than 85 dB can be damaging to your hearing and there are small, easy changes in your life that can protect your hearing and prolong your ability to hear normally. A few ideas are:
- Get noise-canceling headphones — many people choose to turn their music up loud to cancel out the noise around them. Instead, you should consider ideas, like noise-canceling headphones to help you hear the music so you can turn the volume down. Just a few minutes of using headphones at full volume can damage your hearing.
TIP: iPhones and other smartphones now help you track this in the Health App so you can be mindful and make better choices!
- Keep earplugs near your lawnmower (and use them!) — Lawnmowers can be over 100 dB and mowing the lawn for even 15 minutes a week can do lasting damage to your hearing. An easy step is just being mindful to wear earplugs while you’re out mowing the lawn.
Tip: Invest in comfortable earmuffs or headphones so you won’t mind wearing them. In the long run, you may find outdoor chores more enjoyable when the sound is dampened!
- Be mindful of where you sit at concerts and events — did you know that your favorite rock band is probably wearing earplugs on stage? That’s because they know the loud noise can damage their ears. When you go to concerts, consider sitting further from the speakers, or pack a set of earplugs for additional safety. Tip: Don’t be afraid to sport a pair of earplugs! You’ll still be able to hear and enjoy the show, but your ears won’t be ringing for hours after the show!
There are countless habits you may have in your life that can be damaging to your hearing. This month is the perfect opportunity to identify a few areas in your life that may be too loud and make small changes to protect your hearing for the long term.
Protect Your Children:
Did you know noise-induced hearing loss is more prevalent in children and teens than ever before? Consider taking on a hearing protection challenge as a family to reduce noise from headphones, video games, and outdoor recreational sports so you can enjoy hearing each other’s laughter for years to come.
“Children have especially delicate and developing ears” said Thompson. “To ensure that they are able to fully participate in the world around them for a long time, it’s important to teach them healthy habits when it comes to noise.”
Consider turning the TV down, distancing yourself from fireworks, sirens and loud machinery.
“A simple and effective trick to teach your child is to plug or cover their ears during especially loud noises,” said Thompson. “It also good to teach children to wear earplugs or muffs. The earlier you start, the easier it is for them to learn the habit and continue it into adulthood.”
It might seem silly, but a single loud noise, like an explosion, can damage your hearing for the rest of your life.
If you suspect you or your child may be experiencing hearing loss, contact GiveHear or talk to your doctor to learn more.