If you have experienced the initial signs of hearing loss and often have trouble understanding other people while they are talking, you are not alone. In fact, approximately 20% of the adult U.S. population suffers from some degree of hearing loss. The most common cause of hearing loss is age-related. However, continuous exposure to loud noises can also result in a decreased ability to detect soft sounds. While age-related hearing loss is not preventable, noise-related hearing loss is. There are several methods of hearing protection that can keep you from losing your precious sense of hearing.
The intensity of sound is measured in decibels. Zero decibels would indicate the smallest sound able to be heard by humans and 180 decibels is the sound of a rocket being launched. Hearing experts explain that constant exposure to sounds measuring 85 decibels or greater can damage your hearing. Studies show that even younger people are experiencing a high rate of hearing loss as a result of failing to protect their ears from loud noise.
When you hear a sound, your inner ear transforms the noise into nerve impulses. These signals are then sent to your brain for interpretation. Loud noises over time can damage and destroy nerve endings. The damage caused by loud sounds is permanent. The closer you are to the source of the sound and the longer you are exposed to it, the more damage it will cause. Your ability to hear will decrease as you lose more nerve endings. That is one reason why is it essential to protect your ears from excessive noise.
Another reason to guard your ears against noise is to minimize your likelihood of getting tinnitus. Ringing of the ears can become permanent, and is often accompanied by increased blood pressure, pulse and production of stomach acid.
Ways to Protect Your Hearing
Whether you work in a noisy environment or you frequently attend concerts, you should consider wearing hearing protectors, such as earmuffs, like these from Magid, or earplugs. Earplugs fit snugly into the outer ear canal, and should seal off the entire opening to the ear. In order to accommodate different ear shapes, earplugs come in a variety of sizes. If you find that wearing earplugs is uncomfortable or doesn’t work well, earmuffs cover the entire outer ear. Earmuffs usually have a headband or outer ear hook that will keep them firmly in place.
Most hearing protectors will keep out loud noises, but still allow people to understand normal conversations. Next time you are working in a construction zone or attending a music festival, make sure to protect your hearing. Your ears will thank you afterwards.