Happy new year to all who read this! As we enter the new year, we inevitably think of ways we can make this year the best one yet. Most of us make healthy eating or exercise goals as we look to improve our bodies. But one part of us that we usually don’t pay much attention to is our ears. Whether you want to quit an unhealthy habit or lose weight this year, make sure you also take steps to promote good hearing health. Here are a few things that you can do to achieve this in 2020.
1. Schedule an annual hearing test
With many injuries, the body naturally heals itself, or there are medical cures which can help you to recover. Unfortunately, this is not the case with hearing loss, which is irreversible. But the good news is that it’s also preventable. The most important part of that prevention is keeping a close eye on your hearing ability. This is especially important for those over 50 because of the strong connection between hearing loss and aging.
Hearing loss is also insidious, and the sufferer may not notice its slow march over the course of many years until lasting damage has been done. That explains why people wait on average 7 years before admitting that they could use some help. In that time, hearing loss can have a detrimental impact on your mental and emotional health, career prospects (yes, really!), and your relationships with those closest to you.
That’s why audiologists say you should take a test every year if you are over 50. It involves sound tests, and a physical ear examination that isn’t very invasive. If you pass this initial screening, then no further tests are necessary, and you will have peace of mind for the entire year. The results will also be logged by your doctor and this record acts as a valuable source of data to make sure subsequent doctors can see how your hearing has evolved, and give you the best treatment.
2. Protect yourself from noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL)
One of the most common causes of hearing loss is through exposure to noise. People can develop it wherever they hear loud sounds, be it at work or play. Occupations most at-risk of NIHL include construction workers, bartenders and musicians. The activities most associated with hearing loss are shooting firearms, riding motorcycles, going to loud concerts and water adventure sports like wind sailing. Over 10 million Americans have already developed NIHL, so it is something that we must all pay attention to.
What are the symptoms of NIHL?
Generally, you are likely to have developed NIHL if you find yourself turning up the volume on the TV or speakers, or you have trouble hearing what your friends are saying in cafes, bars and restaurants. But not all of it can be self-diagnosed. Only a high frequency test conducted during a hearing test will be able to tell you if you have high frequency hearing loss.
How to limit noise exposure
Many people don’t realize how much noise they are exposed to on a daily basis. To this end, if environments seem too loud, then it is worth using a smartphone app to check the decibel level of your surroundings. If the level exceeds 90dB for a prolonged period of time, it’s probably best to put on a pair of earplugs to protect yourself. Whether you are at work or play, use hearing protection for peace of mind.
Next take a look at your headphones. You might be listening to them at too loud a volume. The average smartphone earbuds crank out more than 100 decibels directly into your ear canal. And you might be listening to music more loudly than you think. The loud roar of the subway train is usually enough for most people to dial up the volume a few more notches than they would like to, just to catch the end of their podcast. Exposure to 15 mins at 100db will do permanent damage to your ears.
Looking for a tech solution? Using noise cancelling headphones will help you listen to your music at a lower volume, thus protecting your ears. You can also change the settings on your phone to limit the volume, which will help if you continuously max out the volume.
Are you ready to make 2020 the healthiest yet? Schedule your annual hearing test with Fidelity Hearing Center today!