Center For Better Hearing - Glens Falls, NY

Image of a notebook with the text 2017 New Year’s Resolution

It’s the New Year, which for many of us means resolving to eat better, work out more, and save more money. But we might consider adding to this list the resolution to protect our hearing.

In 2016, we read an abundance of reports regarding the escalating epidemic of hearing loss. The World Health Organization has alerted us that billions of individuals are at risk from direct exposure to loud noise volumes at work, at home, and at play.

We also found out that even teens are at risk, as the rate of hearing loss in teens is 30 percent higher than it was in the 1990s.

The truth is that our hearing can be harmed at work, while attending concerts, and even at home via the use of earbuds and headphones played at elevated volumes.

For 2017, let’s all get started on the right track by making some simple resolutions to protect and conserve our hearing health.

1. Know how loud is too loud

First of all, how can you know how loud is too loud, and how can you know when your hearing is at risk?

To start with, sound is measured in units called decibels. As the decibel level rises, the intensity level of the sound increases along with the risk of hearing damage.

Here’s a list of sounds with their corresponding decibel levels. Bear in mind that any sound above 85 decibels can potentially damage your hearing with continued exposure.

  • Whisper in a tranquil library – 30 decibels (dB)
  • Normal conversation – 60 dB
  • City traffic – 85 dB
  • Jackhammer at 50 feet – 95 dB
  • Motorcycle – 100 dB
  • Music player at maximum volume – 100+ dB
  • Power saw at three feet – 110 dB
  • Loud rock concert – 115 dB
  • 12-Gauge Shotgun Blast – 165 dB

Keep in mind that with the decibel scale, a 10 dB increase is perceived by the human ear as being twice as loud. This means that a rock concert at 110 dB is 32 times louder than a normal conversation at 60 dB.

2. Protect your ears

Hearing damage is dependent on three factors: 1) the volume or intensity of the sound, 2) the amount of time subjected to the sound, and 3) the distance between your ears and the sound source.

That means, generally speaking, there are three ways you can guard against hearing damage from exposure to loud noise:

  1. Limit the volume with the use of earplugs (or by lowering the volume on an mp3 player).
  2. Limit the time of exposure to the noise either by avoiding it or by taking rest breaks.
  3. Increase the distance from the sound source as much as possible (for example, not standing directly in front of the speakers during a rock concert).

Here are some other tips to protect your hearing:

  • Apply the 60/60 rule when listening to music on a handheld device—listen for no more than 60 minutes at 60 percent of the max volume.
  • Consult your employer about its hearing protection programs if you work in an at-risk profession.
  • Wear hearing protection at loud venues and during loud activities. Budget friendly foam earplugs are obtainable at your local pharmacy, and customized earplugs are available from your local hearing professional.
  • Purchase noise-cancelling headphones. These headphones block external sound so you can listen to the music at lower volumes.
  • Purchase musicians plugs, a special kind of earplug that reduces volume without producing the dull sound of foam earplugs.

3. Know the signs and symptoms of hearing loss

Hearing loss occurs when the nerve cells of the inner ear are damaged. The following are some of the signs of hearing damage to look for immediately after exposure to loud sounds:

  • Ringing in the ears, which is stands for tinnitus.
  • The sensation of “fullness” in your ears.
  • Difficulty understanding speech, where everything sounds muffled.

Those are some of the signs of hearing damage directly after exposure. Here are the signs of long-term hearing loss:

  • Asking others to repeat themselves often, or frequently misinterpretation what people are saying.
  • Having trouble following conversations and making fine distinctions between similar sounding words.
  • Turning the television or radio volume up to the point where others notice.
  • Thinking that other people are constantly mumbling.
  • Having trouble hearing on the phone.

Typically, your friends or family members will be the first to observe your hearing loss. It’s easy to brush this off, but in our experience, if someone is told they have hearing loss by a family member, chances are good that they do.

4. Get your hearing tested

Finally, it’s vital to get a hearing test, for two reasons. One, if your hearing is normal, you can not only inform others that your hearing is fine, you’ll also establish a baseline to assess future hearing tests.

Second, if the hearing test does show hearing loss, you can work together with your hearing care professional to choose the appropriate hearing plan, which usually includes hearing aids. And with today’s technology, you can recover your hearing and enhance almost every aspect of your life.

Why wait? You don't have to live with hearing loss. Call Us Today