Protecting Your Hearing

grandfather with two childrenExpo­sure to exces­sive noise dur­ing work or leisure activ­i­ties can increase a person’s risk of hear­ing loss and poten­tial­ly wors­en a pre-exist­ing hear­ing prob­lem. Con­tin­u­ous expo­sure to 85 deci­bels (dB) can have a detri­men­tal effect on your hear­ing. Take for exam­ple, the noise of a street with con­stant heavy traf­fic. If the expo­sure to loud noise lasts for a an extend­ed peri­od of time, the cells respon­si­ble for our sense of hear­ing will be irre­versibly dam­aged. Doc­tors con­sid­er expo­sure to loud music, such as a rock con­cert or via head­phones, to be par­tic­u­lar­ly dan­ger­ous since the sound inten­si­ty can some­times reach 110 — 120 dB. The trau­mat­ic effect of a sud­den loud sound, like an explo­sion, can also per­ma­nent­ly dam­age hear­ing.

Oth­er activ­i­ties that may cause hear­ing loss over time include: use of a per­son­al radio/CD player/stereo at a high vol­ume; use of firearms; oper­at­ing heavy machin­ery; use of pow­er tools. The good news is that the noise in these cas­es is usu­al­ly eas­i­ly man­aged by turn­ing down the vol­ume or by wear­ing ear pro­tec­tion. Fed­er­al reg­u­la­tions gov­ern allow­able noise lev­els in the work­place, as well as the employer’s role in pro­vid­ing ear pro­tec­tion. More infor­ma­tion on this sub­ject can be found at www.osha.gov. In addi­tion to using ear pro­tec­tion, those who are reg­u­lar­ly exposed to noise should have their hear­ing test­ed reg­u­lar­ly.

Cer­tain med­ica­tions are tox­ic to the ear. If you have a hear­ing loss, be sure to inform your doc­tor of your con­di­tion before begin­ning any new med­ica­tions. There may be instances where oth­er med­ica­tions that are not tox­ic to the ear can be sub­sti­tut­ed.

How loud is too loud?
A gen­er­al rule of thumb is if you have to raise your voice to be heard over the music/noise, it is too loud. Accord­ing to the Nation­al Insti­tute on Deaf­ness and Com­mu­ni­ca­ble Dis­eases, nois­es above 85 dB can cause hear­ing dam­age.

Ear pro­tec­tion
Since there is no cure for noise-induced hear­ing loss, pre­ven­tion is the sen­si­ble alter­na­tive. Mod­ern devices which pro­tect your hear­ing such as com­mer­cial­ly avail­able earplugs or cus­tom-made ear­molds with var­i­ous fil­ter sys­tems, can give effec­tive pro­tec­tion against noise.

If you are exposed to con­tin­u­ous noise in your leisure activ­i­ties or at work, con­tact us for advice on the lat­est hear­ing pro­tec­tion meth­ods that will ben­e­fit and best suit your needs.

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