The New Year is a great time to reprioritize your hearing health! We often overlook this integral aspect of our health. Hearing loss is one of the most common chronic medical conditions that people navigate.
Impacting nearly 1 in 5 people, hearing loss is an invisible issue that is often underdiagnosed. It is also a condition that is preventable which is critical because once hearing is impaired, the damage is permanent. By practicing a few safety tips, you can best care for your hearing, reducing your risk of developing hearing loss. 5 healthy hearing tips you can easily implement this New Year are:
1. Wear Protective Gear
Exposure to loud noise is one of the most common causes of hearing loss. Referred to as noise induced hearing loss, one time or consistent absorption of high levels of sound can damage hearing. We can easily be exposed to dangerous levels of noise. In fact, according to the Hearing Health Foundation:
- 30 million people are exposed to hazardous noise levels in the workplace
- Musicians are 4 times more likely to develop hearing loss
- 40% of people, ages 12-35, are exposed to unsafe noise at entertainment venues
We also encounter loud noise as we navigate a normal day: city traffic, using household appliances, using electronic devices etc.
A useful way to reduce the impact of loud noise is by wearing protective gear. Protective wear for the ears includes earmuffs, earplugs, and headphones. Worn either in the ear or completely cover the ear, this gear provides a protective barrier. This reduces the amount of soundwaves you absorb, minimizing the risk of damage. Wearing protective gear while commuting, in loud venues, in the office etc. is a really useful way to protect your hearing.
2. Keep Volume Down
Sound is measured in units known as decibels(dB) and noise above 85dB is potentially harmful for hearing. A major way we are exposed to 85dB and higher is through personal audio devices. The Hearing Health Foundation estimates that nearly 50% of people could be exposed to unsafe noise from personal audio devices – smartphone, speaker, television etc. These devices can reach 100dB which is dangerous for hearing health.
It is important to maintain an appropriate volume level while listening to music, watching tv, enjoying podcasts etc. If you are ever unsure about how loud is too loud, you can download an app which actually measures decibels! Also, a good rule of thumb to use is that if you or someone else has to project their voice, take that as a sign that your device is too loud.
3. Take Listening Breaks
Your ears and brain are constantly absorbing and processing sound throughout the day. It is important to take breaks so that your ears can rest and recover. There are thousands of hair cells in each ear which help translate soundwaves. Hair cells are activated as sound travels through the ear, creating vibrations. Taking listening breaks allows these hair cells to rest from this movement, allowing them to be reenergized. You can implement breaks throughout your day which is as simple as powering off your devices and hanging out in a quiet space. You can use this time to engage in quiet activities like reading or taking a nap!
4. Practice Ear Care
There are ways to practice effective hygiene for your ears! This includes the following:
- Avoid using cotton swabs! Most people use cotton swabs but experts actually recommend that you do not because they can easily push earwax further into the ear. Earwax naturally falls out of the ear but if you experience buildup, you can try to soften the earwax and drain it out.
- Make sure to thoroughly dry your ears after swimming to avoid an ear infection (commonly known as swimmers’ ear). This is particularly important if you wear hearing aids!
5. Get Hearing Tested
Getting your hearing tested regularly is a great way to stay on top of your hearing health. You can incorporate hearing tests in your yearly health screenings. Hearing tests are an effective (and noninvasive) way of identifying hearing needs, establishing any hearing loss, and facilitating early intervention.
If you are ready for your annual hearing test, contact us today! We provide comprehensive hearing health services and we’re here to help.