There’s no denying that life has gotten louder in the last decade. With the advent of new technologies will better sound and longer battery life, people spend more time than ever before listening to music or watching TV on headphones.
While younger populations continue to be at risk for permanent hearing loss, did you know that 14% of people, between the ages of 45 and 64, experience some type of hearing loss? This age-group is often overlooked for their younger and older counterparts because the numbers are not as staggering (1 in 3 people age 65 and older experience hearing loss, for example).
At the same time, it is important for people of all ages to pay attention to the sounds in their lives. Noise-induced hearing loss – hearing loss which occurs due to exposure to loud noise over a period of time – occurs gradually. This means that while our hearing abilities have not significantly changed, the sounds we experience in everyday life could contribute to hearing loss.
Noise-Induced Hearing Loss
Our hearing is always fluctuating, so it may be difficult at first to notice if you’re experiencing hearing loss. Noise-induced hearing loss often occurs gradually, due to damage to your inner ear cells. Exposure to loud noise on a regular basis could damage your inner ear hair cells permanently, which do not regenerate. These cells are responsible for translating vibrations into neural signals to be registered by the brain as sound.
Noise-induced hearing loss doesn’t only occur in loud environments. In fact, studies have found that people who work in loud environments are often less at risk for hearing loss than people in moderately loud environments, as people in loud workplaces tend to have custom hearing protection.
Outside of the workplace, there are many noises in our everyday life that could cause permanent hearing loss in the long-run, if we are exposed for a certain amount of time.
Common Sounds That Could Jeopardize Your Hearing
All sounds can be measured in decibels. Hearing specialists agree that sounds at 85 decibels could lead to permanent hearing loss after just one hour of exposure. The problem is, many sounds we experience on a daily basis exceed 85 decibels. Here is a range of sounds we may experience, and their decibels:
The National Institute of Health notes that just one minute of exposure to sounds at this decibel could cause permanent hearing loss:
• Rock concert
• Jet engines
• Nail gun
• Ambulance siren
• Home stereo speakers at maximum volume
Exposure to sounds in this range of decibels could cause permanent hearing loss over a period of time:
• Garbage truck
• Lawn mower
It is recommended for people exposed to these decibels to use protective ear plugs or custom ear protection. Custom ear protection is designed to fit your ear specifically, giving better protection than generic foam or silicon earplugs.
Additionally, if you use earbuds regularly, it’s time to make a change. Earbuds are positioned very close to your eardrums, and because they do not block out external sounds, people tend to turn up the volume when using them. Consider getting noise-canceling headphones, and also stick to the 60-60 rule set forth by hearing specialists: listen to media at 60% volume for no more than 60 minutes a day. Give your ears a break from this noisy, modern world!
What to Do if You’re Experiencing Hearing Loss
In a Huffington Post piece from 2013, a 71-year-old woman reports on her experience. “I first noticed my hearing loss in my late 50s. Like most people, I ignored it because I thought it didn’t interfere with my life. I also thought acknowledging it would make me old. Over the next 10 years, my hearing worsened and I realized how it was affecting relationships with my family…I regret waiting so long to do something about my hearing loss. I missed so many conversations and special moments with my husband, children, and grandchildren.”
This holiday season, give yourself the gift of better hearing! If you’ve been experiencing changes in your hearing, schedule an appointment with us at Fidelity Hearing Center. We provide comprehensive hearing tests and hearing aid fittings. Contact us today and experience the different of better hearing.