Here are things you can do in everyday life that will help prevent hearing loss.
“Best way to protect your ears is to first be aware of the guidelines established by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) regarding exposure levels to loud noise,” says Rivka Strom, AuD, CCC-A, Director of Audiology, Advanced Hearing NY Inc.
Strom adds, “Once you realize what unsafe levels are, try to avoid those situations where there is potential harm or keep a few packs of earplugs in your bag.”
It’s the little day-to-day noises that can contribute significantly to gradual hearing loss over time.
Every Day Noises that Can Contribute to Hearing Loss
Kitchen Work. Wearing earplugs during the use of blenders, juicers, coffee grinders and other loud items would be a very smart idea.
- How much hearing loss will years and years of using a blender, juicer and coffee grinder cause?
- These machines are LOUD.
“Some kitchen appliances can absolutely cause NIHL after many exposures,” says Strom.
Entertainment. “Turning up the volume” for thrills will contribute to NIHL over time. Can you hear your TV dialogue just fine at a volume level of 10 (or whatever your volume indicator says)?
Then don’t go to 14. Stay at 10. During scenes of muddled speech, go to 11 or 12.
But to keep it higher just for the sake of “I like it loud” is setting you up for hearing loss.
“Listening to music at high volumes through earbuds is one of the more damaging behaviors in which people continue to engage, despite warnings,” says Strom.
Windows. Do you slam your windows shut? Repeated exposures of the loud noise that this makes is not good for hearing health.
In Public. Strom explains, “It’s a good idea to keep a pair of earplugs in your bag or pocket when you leave the house, in case you find yourself in a situation where ambient noise exceeds your comfort level (e.g., near a construction site, walking by heavy traffic sounds, attending a concert or party, going to the dentist).”
If you forgot your earplugs, then use your fingers and don’t mind what strangers might think.
“In 2016, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention began initiatives to raise awareness about the risk for permanent hearing damage attributable to non-occupational noise exposures,” says Strom.
“They published prevalence numbers close to 24% for adults with noise induced hearing loss.
“Again, these numbers are for non-occupational noise exposure, so that includes all those times you are exposed to high level noise when you are having fun and living life and may not even realize that the music of your car, or your child’s loud toy (and yes, loud toys too can get to unsafe levels!!) or blow drying your hair at max setting can harm you without protection.”
The Gym. Few people at gyms wear earplugs. Yet gyms are very loud.
- Booming speakers all over the ceiling on the main floor.
- Many cardio machines going at once.
- People banging large metal plates.
- Thundering music in group fitness classes.
If you’re worried what people will think of you protecting your ears from hearing loss, this inconvenience pales in comparison to the expense of hearing aids, which usually comes after years of denying you have hearing loss even though everyone is just sick of having to talk loudly and slowly to you all the time. Think about it.
An audiologist can fit you for custom made earplugs, which are superior to any that you can buy online or at a drug store.
And did you know that often, a person who wears hearing aids must undergo repeated testing to get things right?
I should know; I have accompanied my noise-induced hearing impaired father on countless trips to the audiologist over the past few years. Each testing lasts about an hour!