If you are between the ages of 12 and 35, here’s some bad news: you are at a higher risk of developing hearing loss than your counterparts in the 1980's and 1990's. In February 2015, the World Health Organization estimated that 1.1 billion teens and young adults, between the ages of 12 and 35, are at risk for hearing loss. Data analyzed from middle to high-income countries showed that 50% of teens and young adults experience unsafe volumes from their personal devices, and that 40% jeopardize their hearing at entertainment venues.
Once your hearing has been damaged, it will not be restored to normal levels. The hair cells in your ears that capture and process sound waves, once dead, do not regenerate. Exposure to loud sounds for a long period of time is one of the leading causes of hearing loss. Hearing loss has adverse health effects later in life. Don't lose hope! There are simple ways to protect your hearing while you've still got it.
How to reduce your risk of hearing loss:
4. Swap your earbuds for headphones
Earbuds are convenient and light, nut, they are also extremely damaging to your hearing. Their placement in your ear canal and proximity to your eardrum create conditions that are similar to working in a coal mine with power tools. Volumes can rise anywhere between 8 and 10 decibels higher just based on earbud placement. Earbuds do not cancel out noise, which causes wearers to turn the volume up higher when in noisy spaces. This increased volume is damaging. Consider noise-canceling, over the ear headphones.
3. 60-60 rule
To reduce your risk of hearing loss, it's recommended to apply the 60-60 rule when listening to music or other media. This means listening at 60% of the maximum volume, for only 60 minutes a day. Most devices allow you to turn the volume way up, but that doesn’t mean you necessarily have to. In fact, there are apps that allow you to control the volume at a safe level. The best case scenario is to listen to sounds, music, shows, etc. over speakers, but even when wearing noise-cancelling headphones, consider this rule.
2. Awareness of sounds around you.
The world is noisy. From public transportation to the DJ at the club, there is a lot going on. Our ears are always on, which means they are always taking in acoustic information and sending it to our brain for processing. If you plan to be at a loud concert, remember to bring earplugs, and avoid standing directly near a speaker.
1. Customized ear protection.
If your workplace is noisy, consider asking your employer for subsidized customized protective hearing. From construction to hair styling, there are a variety of occupations that increase the risk of hearing loss later in life due to regular exposure of high decibel sounds. Musicians are also at risk, with regular exposure to high volumes. Customized ear protection does not muddle or block out all sound; rather, they are fitted to your ear and filter out the background noise you do not want to hear, while keeping you in touch with the world around you. At Fidelity Hearing Center, we offer custom ear protection for those who find themselves in noisy environments. Learn more about custom ear protection here.