Hearing is not a renewable resource. Once you damage your ears and begin experiencing hearing loss, it is not something that can grow back or repair after time. The first step towards preserving this resource is making sure you get an up-to-date hearing evaluation each year at Hearing Consultants. If you feel some experience may have damaged your hearing recently – get a test, even if it hasn’t been a year. A hearing test will give you important information on your hearing abilities and ensure that you are treated if a hearing loss is found.
Noise is everywhere
While there has been a lot of emphasis on workplace noise and noise induced hearing loss, you should be protecting your ears during what may seem like routine activities. The U.S. Department of Labor enforces regulations to protect the hearing of Americans who work in noisy places, but there is no enforcement body for Americans who don’t wear ear protection when they should during daily activities.
Since the 1800s there have been reports of people losing their hearing after exposure to gun shots. Competitive shooting, skeet shooting, and trap shooting are all hobbies Americans indulge in and those activities involve guns and shooting. Some occupations require range practice and ear protection is supplied, but many Americans forgo ear protection during “hobby” activities involving fire arms. That’s a bad idea. Invest in some good protection and get into the routine of carrying it with you.
In terms of decibel range, anything over 85 decibels is starting to get you into the range of a sound that can damage your ears. The energy of a single shot of a high-powered rifle or shotgun is a sharp 90 decibels. So, exposure to one gunshot without ear protection is the equivalent of one week of noise exposure at a workplace. Looking at it in another way, a target shooter can amass a year’s worth of hazardous hearing exposure in just a few minutes at the range without ear protection.
Another recreational activity with a high noise ratio is rock concerts. The average decibel rating of a rock concert is 103.
You can recover from audio exposure from a rock concert after a few hours, or, sometimes, a few days – but ear plugs or noise cancelling headphones would let you enjoy the concert at a more respectable decibel level. If that’s not an option, consider taking a break somewhere away from the noise during the concert and then going back. Many young people are damaging their ears without realizing it when they blast their personal stereos or iPhone music at a loud level for a prolonged period of time. Some personal stereo volumes can go up to 120 decibels.
The two most common kinds of ear protection are ear plugs or earmuffs. Ear plugs come in a lot of styles and sizes. They are relatively comfortable, low cost and portable. They are available in sporting good stores and even at some larger drug stores and retail stores. They should be thrown out when they start losing their shape and elasticity. Ear plugs should be rolled to a smaller size and then inserted into the ear canal. They then expand to fill the space. They should be stored in their original case to keep them clean and dry.
Earmuffs fit over the ear. They are heavier and offer more protection than ear plugs. They should fit snugly over the ear forming a seal which acts as a noise barrier. They are available in fashion colors and in several different styles and weights, so it isn’t difficult to find one you – or a child – would like. There are a couple of types that will limit the volume of a personal stereo so if you have a child that keeps their stereo volume louder than you would like, this would be helpful. If you are investing in earmuffs it is good idea to find an electronics store that has a selection on hand for you to try out.
If you are a musician, you should be using ear protection because of the constant barrage of sound that is part of your profession. There is special ear protection designed for musicians and at Hearing Consultants, we can help you with that. If you are unable to find ear plugs or earmuffs that work for you, don’t hesitate to call and we can work out custom ear protection. Ear protection as well as a current hearing test from Hearing Consultants will help you protect your “resources.”
To protect your hearing, contact us at Hearing Consultants today.