Hearing loss is very common, particularly among older adults and those who work in noisy environments. It is also on the rise, due to our listening habits and increasing reliance on headphones and ear buds. There are still many ways to care for your ears and hearing, and to help prevent certain kinds and degrees of hearing loss, though. We’ve put together a short list of ear + hearing safety measures that can help you maintain your hearing health.
Sustained sounds of louder than 85 decibels are known to cause permanent damage to the tiny hairs in your inner ear that transmit sounds waves to the brain. Ear trauma from loud noises can result in hearing loss, and people who work in loud industrial environments are at serious risk of permanent damage to their hearing. Ear covers and ear plugs are critical for hearing loss prevention for those working in loud factories or around sustained engine noise or loud music.
We all know from an early age that we are not supposed to stick objects in our ears, yet ear cleaning with cotton swabs is a hard habit to break! Doctors say it’s a dangerous practice, though. Cotton swabs can push ear wax into the ear and cause damage, and even worse, accidents involving ear drum ruptures are not uncommon. Ears are remarkably good at cleaning themselves, so there’s no need for Q-Tips.
Swimmer’s Ear is not just for kids. An infection of the outer ear canal, it can be dangerous if left untreated and can even result in hearing loss. Robert Redford now copes with hearing loss after water-induced infections sustained during on-set stunts. Technically known as otitis externa, swimmer’s ear is easily treated with drops, so make sure to consult a doctor if you experience discomfort after swimming or suspect you have water in your ears.
Recovery After Loud Noise
It is not widely known that you need to rest your ears in order to let them recover after exposure to loud noise. That ringing in your ears after a loud concert? It means that your ears have been stressed and need to rest. It is said that your ears need 16 hours of quiet following a loud night out or exposure to intense noise.
Turn Down the Volume
Many of us now spend a good part of the day listening to music, news and podcasts on our phones, so it’s especially important to keep the volume at a safe level. Anything over 85 decibels is dangerous, but experts recommend a sustained volume of no higher than 70 decibels. Most phones now allow you to set safe volume levels, and noise-canceling headphones filter out ambient noise, allowing you to listen at quieter volumes. If someone sitting next you can hear what you’re listening to, it’s too loud.
Communicate with Your Doctor
Finally, and possibly most importantly, it’s crucial to stay in touch with your doctor about any changes in your hearing. They will be able to make sure that any medications you’re on aren’t causing the problem, and to set you up with appropriate hearing screenings.
Hearing loss has a variety of causes and also potential solutions—waiting to find out what’s causing it could lead to further damage. Getting on top of ear + hearing safety measures in the meantime will help keep your hearing healthy.