Prevention for Hearing Loss

A new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) showed that one in five American teens now suffers from some type of hearing loss; a 31 percent increase since the mid 1990s.  Click here to read the USA Today article.  The story focused on the world being a noisier place given the prevalence of MP3 players, iPods and cell phones, along with general environmental noise like mowing the lawn, hunting with a rifle or noisy events like concerts and NASCAR races.

Hearing Loss Prevention

What is Noise-induced Hearing Loss?

Noise-induced hearing loss is the slow loss of hearing caused by too much noise (noise that is too loud and/or prolonged exposure to loud noise.) Hearing loss happens when too much noise hurts the hair cells in the inner ear. Noise-induced hearing loss is one of the most common causes of nerve deafness. Over 10 million Americans have this kind of hearing problem. Noise-induced hearing loss lasts forever. Hearing aids can help, but they can’t fully correct it. This kind of hearing loss can be prevented by staying away from loud and long noises.

If you suspect that you may have noise-induced hearing loss, get your hearing tested by an audiologist in Paradise.

How Do I Know if the Noise is Hurting my Ears?

Through work or through hobbies you may be exposed to noise that hurts your hearing. If you need to shout to talk with others while in the presence of the noise then it is probably hurting your hearing.

Common noises That Might Hurt Your Hearing Include:

Firearms, jet plane 140 to 170 decibels
Chain saw, rock concert 110 to 120 decibels
Personal stereo players/disc player 100 decibels
Farm machinery 90 to 110 decibels
Certain children toys 110 decibels
Snowmobile 100 decibels
Motorcycle, lawnmower 90 decibels

Both the loudness of sound (called the intensity) and the amount of time you hear the noise are factors. Sound is measured in decibels (dB). It has been determined that eight hours of hearing noise at 90 decibels could hurt your hearing. A 5 dB increase in sound intensity doubles the risk. Therefore at 95 dB – only 4 hours is safe, at 95 dB – only 2 hours, at 100 dB – only 1 hour, etc…

Workplaces where sound levels are an average of 85 decibels or higher average for more than eight hours must have programs to save the hearing of workers. These workplaces must give free hearing protection devices to workers. You can also purchase these devices from your audiologist in Paradise.

How do I Know if I’m Getting Hearing Loss from Noise?

Noise-induced hearing loss usually happens slowly. There is no pain. Right after hearing noise, you may notice a “ringing” sound in your ears. This is common after attending a loud music concert. You might have trouble hearing people talk immediately following the noise exposure. After several hours or even a few days, these symptoms usually go away. However, when you are exposed to this kind of noise again, you could get a hearing loss that lasts forever.

Signs of noise-induced hearing loss include the following:

  • Having trouble understanding what people say, especially in noisy rooms like a crowded restaurant
  • Needing to turn the TV sound higher
  • Having to ask people to repeat what they just said to you, especially women and children’s voices
  • Not being able to hear high-pitched sounds, like a baby crying, crickets or birds chirping

Along with the hearing loss, you may also have ringing in the ears. (This is called “tinnitus.”)  The only way to find out if you have a hearing loss is to have your hearing tested by an Audiologist in Paradise or ENT physician.

How Can I Prevent Noise-Induced Hearing Loss?

  • You can make “hearing protection” a part of your lifestyle. Stay away from loud or prolonged noises when you can. Turn down the music volume. Buy power tools that have sound controls.
  • When you must be around noise, either at work or at play, use something to protect your hearing.
  • Hearing protection devices, like earplugs, earmuffs and canal caps, are sold in drugstores and hardware stores. Different brands offer different amounts of protection. If you are not sure which kind is best for you, or how to use it correctly, ask your doctor. Often the best kind is the one that you feel comfortable in so you can wear it when you need it.
  • Keep your hearing protectors handy. You won’t use it if it’s not readily available.
  • If you think you have a hearing loss (or if someone in your family thinks so), it is important to have your hearing tested regularly. Call for an appointment today with Dr. Touchette, a leading audiologist in Paradise.
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