There are quite a few perfectly normal parts of summer that can actually damage hearing. Mowing the lawn, fireworks, shooting targets, concerts, power tools, motorized recreational vehicles, and sporting events can all put out unsafe levels of sound. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 1.1 billion teenagers and young adults (12 to 35 year olds) are at risk of hearing loss due to exposure to damaging levels of sound at noisy entertainment venues and the unsafe use of personal audio devices.
How Noise Affects Hearing
We hear sound when delicate hair cells in our inner ear vibrate, creating nerve signals that the brain understands as sound. What many don’t know is that these cells can be overloaded. If a noise is too loud, it damages these delicate cells and causes tinnitus (ringing in the ears). When these cells are irreversibly damaged, it causes hearing loss.
Some hearing loss signs to look out for are:
- You have pain in your ears after leaving a noisy area.
- You hear ringing or buzzing (tinnitus) in your ears immediately after exposure to noise.
- You suddenly have difficulty understanding speech after exposure to noise; you can hear people talking but can’t understand them.
Protection is the Best Prevention
The best way to prevent hearing loss is to protect your ears. Here are a couple of ways you can do that:
- Walk away and plug your ears. If a loud noise takes you by surprise, quickly plug your ears with your fingers and walk away. Increasing the distance between you and the source of the sound will help reduce the intensity (or decibels) at which the sound is reaching your ears.
- Use earplugs. When you know you’ll be around loud sounds, use earplugs. Disposable earplugs, made of foam or silicone, are often available at local pharmacies. They’re practical because you can still hear music and conversation when they’re in your ears. But when they fit snuggly, they’re effective in adequately blocking out dangerously loud sounds.
- Limit your time in noisy environments. Do all you can to limit the length of time you spend in a noisy environment. When you do participate in noisy activities, alternate them with periods of quiet. And remember to use ear protection.
- Turn it down. When listening to smartphones and other electronics, keep them at a low volume. Importantly, limit your use of headphones and ear buds. Remember, it’s not just the volume that matters. It’s also the duration of time spent listening.
Bay Area Audiology can help you protect your hearing!
If you are concerned about hearing loss or seeking hearing evaluations, tinnitus evaluations, or hearing aid assistance, our doctors are ready to help. We are passionate about helping all of our patients improve their quality of life through better hearing. We also believe that patient education is critical, so you won’t be lead through endless sales pitches at our office. If you are interested in hearing how we can help you hear even better, contact us at (410) 838-4327 or online. For more hearing tips and articles, follow Bay Area Audiology on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, and LinkedIn.