A Quick Guide To Protecting Your Hearing

middle aged man cutting wood while wearing yellow over-the-head hearing protection

We are all aware of what our hearing does for us, but it is something we can take for granted. Once you have irreversible hearing damage, it will have an impact on your quality of life. It is important to diagnose any hearing condition as early as possible, but it's also important to make sure you know how to protect your ears and your general hearing health. Let's show you some approaches to incorporate in every area of your life.

Turning the volume down on your devices 

Young adults and teenagers are running the risk of experiencing noise-induced hearing loss. If you want to listen to music through headphones, the suggestion is to listen to any noise through headphones at 60% volume for no longer than 60 minutes per day. If you listen to music through earbuds, the potential for hearing damage is greater than over-the-ear headphones. This is because earbuds go next to the eardrum, and any exposure to loud noise over prolonged periods of time will risk noise-induced hearing loss.

Use earplugs 

If you work in an environment with prolonged exposure to loud noise, or you go to noisy environments such as music concerts or clubs, you are running the risk of experiencing noise-induced hearing loss in these environments. When we go to a concert, the noise level is approximately 100 decibels. Hearing damage can occur as low as 85 decibels.

 If you go to environments where you have to shout to make yourself heard, either avoid them or make sure you are protecting your hearing with earplugs. You can acquire custom earplugs or purchase musicians' earplugs, so you are reducing the levels of harmful noise while maintaining the quality of the original sound. 

Keep your ears dry 

If you have excess moisture in your ear canal, this can allow bacteria to infiltrate. So if you swim lots, or you spend a lot of time with your head underwater, in baths, or you put the shower nozzle to your ear, you need to gently towel dry your ears. If you feel any water in your ear, tilt your head to the side, and tug lightly on the earlobe to gently bring the water out. If you spend a lot of time swimming, you can protect your ears by using custom-fit earplugs for swimming, which blocks water from entering the ear canal. 

Avoid cotton swabs

You might be obsessed with keeping your ears clean, especially if you have a lot of earwax, and while cotton swabs are a common way to clean wax out of the ear, it is best to avoid them. If you have a little bit of wax in your ears, this is a sign that your ears are cleaning themselves effectively. Wax prevents dust and harmful particles from infiltrating the ear canal. If you use cotton swabs or cotton swabs to try and retrieve this wax, you are running the risk of pushing the wax further into your ear canal. But your eardrum is so sensitive, regularly inserting cotton swabs into your ear could damage the eardrum. If you have concerns about excess wax, you need to clean around the ear canal using a damp towel. You could also use an ear wax removal solution, which softens the wax enough that it will come out by itself. 

Look after your stress levels 

Something you may not consider, but anxiety and stress have been linked to temporary and permanent tinnitus, also known as ringing in the ears. When you experience high levels of stress in your life, you are inadvertently putting a lot of pressure on your nerves and your blood flow. It is thought that any form of pressure when in "fight or flight mode" can travel to your inner ear, which may contribute to symptoms of tinnitus.

Allow your ears to recover from loud noises 

If you go to concerts or noisy environments regularly, you need to give your ears the time to recover. You can step away from the noise for five minutes to give them a rest, or you take the next day to remove yourself from the noise completely. Your ears will need approximately 16 hours of peace and quiet to recover from the noise provided by one loud event.

Regular check-ups 

Having regular check-ups with a professional audiologist is the best way for you to protect your hearing. It is vital that we take action. If we experience any signs of hearing loss, we must be proactive and book an appointment with an audiologist. Audiologists are there to help you recognize the signs of hearing loss so you can take the appropriate action. If you want to learn more and book a hearing test, you can contact Sommerville Audiology & Hearing Aid Center on 586-298-3788.