Hearing Loss Prevention

As with many illnesses, prevention is far better than cure, so make sure you are looking after your precious hearing every day. At Kaanchana Speech & Hearing Clinic, we’ve come up with a few simple precautions you can take to help your hearing last a lifetime.
Noise is the most common cause of hearing loss. Loud noises can damage the ear’s fragile hair cells, damage which cannot be repaired. The critical noise level is 85 decibels. Noise exceeding this level can cause temporary hearing loss, and prolonged exposure could cause permanent hearing damage to your ears. Earplugs and earmuffs are your best protection.
Did you know that a single shot from a shotgun could permanently damage your hearing in an instant? Scary, isn’t it?
Exposure to loud machinery can also present a serious risk to your hearing, and the effects of noise on hearing are usually underestimated because the damage can take place gradually. Loud noise damages the delicate hair cells in the inner ear, which can result in sensorineural hearing loss and often tinnitus (ringing of the ears).
If you listen to music and audio devices such as iPods and MP3 players or internet sites with headphones at a loud volume or for a prolonged period of time, you could also be doing some serious damage to your ears.
The softest sound that can be heard is 0 dB. Each increase of 10 dB represents an approximate doubling of the perceived loudness of sound. iPods, for example, can reach volumes of over 100 dB, while the maximum ‘safe’ level of noise for an 8 hour period is 85 dB. Each 3 dB increase in sound level cuts the safe listening time in half (e.g. 88 dB for 4 hours).
It is more important than ever to listen responsibly: think about the volume and keep track of listening time. Your ears adapt to higher levels of sound over time, without realising that the higher volume may be harmful to hearing. The louder the volume, the less time required before your hearing may be affected. If you experience ringing in your ears or hear muffled speech, stop using MP3s and have your hearing checked.
There are a few ways you can tell that the noise level is getting too high:

  • If you can’t hear someone a metre away
  • If you have to raise your voice to be heard by someone a metre away
  • Your ears ring, or things sound different after leaving a noisy situation
  • You have difficulty understanding speech after leaving a noisy situation
  • If the noise you’re hearing is causing pain in your ears

What you can do to protect your hearing:

  • IF IN DOUBT, WEAR HEARING PROTECTION
  • Foam or silicone earplugs are available at your pharmacy or from KSHC and you can buy yourself a set of earmuffs from any hardware store
  • Always wear your earplugs or earmuffs when working with machinery or going to a concert
  • If your job brings you into contact with loud noises (farmers, police officers, firemen, builders, construction workers, musicians) make sure you have access to adequate hearing protection – there are a whole range of products available to suit all types of environment
  • At home, turn down the volume on the television and stereos
  • Buy quieter equipment i.e. a silenced vacuum cleaner
  • Give your ears a complete rest for ten minutes every hour
  • Limit the amount of time you spend in noisy environments or 24 hours after long periods of exposure to loud noise
  • Invest in noise-reducing earphones for your MP3 players to avoid exposure to excessive noise levels from around you
  • Don’t use cotton buds to remove ear wax, ear wax is important for ear health and cotton buds can do damage to the fragile inner ear
  • If you think you are experiencing any level of hearing loss, see your KSHC hearing specialist as soon as possible – the earlier you get on to the problem the better