Afterall, How Bad Can Loud Sounds Really Be?
May is Better Hearing and Speech Month, so it is a good time to bring awareness to something that causes permanent hearing loss but should and can be prevented; exposure to loud sounds.
Sounds easy – doesn’t it? Well, it is if you follow these eight simple tips. Hearing loss from loud sounds, also known as Noise-Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL), occurs when the delicate hair cells in the inner ear are damaged by exposure to loud noises. This can be caused by a sudden, extremely loud sound, such as an explosion, or by prolonged exposure to loud noises over time, such as working in a loud factory or listening to loud music through headphones.
The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders has found that “Exposure to harmful noise can happen at any age. People of all ages, including children, teens, young adults, and older people, can develop NIHL. Based on a 2011-2012 CDC study involving hearing tests and interviews with participants, at least 10 million adults (6 percent) in the U.S. under age 70…have features of their hearing test that suggest hearing loss in one or both ears from exposure to loud noise.”
NIHL can be temporary or permanent, but hearing loss becomes permanent once those delicate hair cells in your inner ear are damaged. The degree of hearing loss can vary depending on the intensity and duration of the noise exposure. Symptoms may include muffled or distorted hearing, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), and difficulty understanding speech. The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association’s research shows that when you are exposed to loud noise consistently, “You may need to concentrate more and use more energy to hear. And the person speaking needs to talk louder or yell. This can make conversations hard. You may give up trying to talk or listen.”
Did you know another unintended consequence of hearing loss is cognitive decline? It is another crucial reason you must protect your hearing at all costs. Read more about that here.
8 Ways To Save Your Hearing Before It’s Too Late
Prevention is key to avoiding irreversible hearing loss from loud sounds. Here are some of the best ways to start protecting hearing immediately:
1. Headphones. Keep track of how long you’ve been wearing headphones, keep the volume down, and take breaks from wearing them periodically.
2. Be Conscientious of Noise Levels. Whether you are working at a noisy job site, at a concert, or any place where you must shout to be heard, consider the noise level too high. If you are in these places often, use noise-canceling earmuffs or earplugs.
3. Caution When Shooting a Firearm. Another area of concern when it comes to noise is whenever you are shooting a firearm. Always use hearing protection whenever possible while discharging a firearm.
4. Turn the TV Down. Try to keep the volume of the TV down as low as possible. The same goes for the radio in your car.
5. Recover. Sometimes it is inevitable that you will be exposed to loud environments. Give yourself time to recover after being exposed by allowing yourself time in a quiet environment where you can relax and give your ears a break from any noises.
6. Be Careful What You Put in Your Ear! This one may seem obvious, but it isn’t always. Never use anything to scratch the inside of your ears. When using a Q-tip, clean only around the tip of your ear and do not reach down to the eardrum. The wax will lift itself out to the opening naturally.
7. Keep Moving. Exercise helps to keep the blood pumping, including in your ears, and will keep the internal parts of your ears healthier.
8. Get Tested. Get tested if you experience hearing loss, ringing, or fullness in your ears. Also, anyone over the age of 50 should be tested even if they do not have symptoms. A test that does not show hearing loss will establish a valuable baseline for future testing.
If you suspect you have hearing loss from loud sounds, it’s important to see a hearing specialist for a hearing evaluation and to discuss hearing treatment options as soon as possible.
Hearing Loss Treatment Options
At Everything Hearing in Meridian and Caldwell, Idaho, we specialize in the personal treatment of hearing loss that goes well beyond traditional hearing aids. (And, of course, we provide hearing aids for purchase and lease!)
Our practice goes beyond traditional audiology treatments.
Since everyone’s hearing loss differs, we use various tools to treat individual hearing loss. Some of these treatment tools include:
• Cognivue Screenings
• Listening and Communication Enhancement Auditory Training
• Aural Rehabilitation Software
• And Oo Course, Technology Treatments, Such as Hearing Aids
We have two Idaho locations, in Caldwell and in Meridian, so we are easily accessible to anyone in the Treasure Valley area seeking to learn more about their hearing loss and the Technical Treatment Plan options we offer. Contact us for a free booklet with more information, or make an appointment today!