28 May 2015

May 31st: Save Your Hearing Day

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What did you say? Could you please repeat that? How many times have you found yourself saying this, especially as you age? Sometimes, we genuinely don’t understand someone, but other times, we simply don’t hear them well enough. Thankfully, even if our hearing has already dwindled, there are ways to prevent extensive hearing loss.

With May 31st designated as Save Your Hearing Day, here are the top ways to preserve our inner ear function:

  1. What matters is how loud. If a sound is too loud for our ears, it damages our hearing. Sound is measured in decibels (dB) and anything over 85dB may cause hearing loss, according to the CDC or Center for Disease Control. To give you an idea of average decibels, a whisper measures around 30dB, whereas a rocket launch is 180dB. Your ears and mind will generally tell you that something is too loud – you might instinctively cover your ears and/or wince at the sound. But if you are unable to distinguish excessive noise, you can use a decibel meter (also known as a noise meter), available for low cost online, or even a free smartphone app. By measuring the decibels of routine sounds in your home, office, or other surroundings, you can get an idea of when a sound is likely to cause hearing loss.
  2. Protect Your Ears from Loudness. Ear plugs, or ear mufflers are the way to go – they reduce noise by 15-30dB. Earplugs for lower-frequency noises, and earmuffs against higher-frequencies. And of course, there are varying degrees, for example, check out this Wall Street Journal article on a variety of high-tech ear plugs. Do you research on the best type of ear protection for your or your family members, and when you know you’ll be exposed to loud noise for an extended period, wear the protective ear gear.
  3. Turn down the volume. Like the heat and A/C, office mates, married couples, and college roommates tend to disagree on noise level. However, you can hopefully come to a compromise, and otherwise, you might see some of you with those trusty earplugs in! For work-related noise, employees have rights protection, so if you feel your hearing rights are being violated, consult with OSHA.
  4. Don’t smoke. According to recent studies, cigarette smoke inhalation (first-hand or second-hand) is equated with higher levels of hearing loss. The cause is not fully understood, but those who quit smoking tend to recover some of their hearing loss, indicating that the smoke association might be temporary. That’s hopeful news for those who quit.
  5. Keep updated. If you already have diagnosed, significant hearing loss, keep up with your doctor appointments to monitor your hearing. If you have a hearing aid, make sure it’s calibrated correctly, and routinely.

Loss of hearing can be frustrating, even depressing, and the best way to tackle hearing loss is via prevention. If permanent hearing loss kicks in, at least it’s comforting to know that by maintaining a lower-noise lifestyle, you’ll be able to salvage as much hearing as you can. At Rockaway Care Center, we take precautions against loud noises, and encourage everyone to maintain their routine hearing checkups for monitoring hearing health. Here’s to Save Your Hearing Day!


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