Protecting Your Hearing
by Envoy Medical Staff Member, on March 2, 2022
The modern world is loud and if it's loud enough it can damage your hearing. Noise-induced hearing loss is typically caused by exposure to excessively loud sounds or from listening to loud sounds over an extended period of time. In some cases, exposure to one very loud sound or blast can result in permanent hearing loss and/or tinnitus. Seventeen percent of adults aged 20-69 have suffered permanent damage due to noise. Fortunately, this type of loss can be preventable.
March 3, 2022, is World Hearing Day and this year's theme is safe listening. The World Health Organization's (WHO) first-ever World Report on Hearing last year mentioned noise control as an essential intervention to this public health issue. Currently, there is no global standard for safe listening entertainment venues, so encouraging people to be aware of and reduce exposure to loud sounds in their environment is important.
Whether you already have hearing loss or don't yet experience it, there are several things you can do to protect what hearing you have.
Learn Which Environments are Dangerously Loud
Sporting arenas, musical events and concerts, and construction sites are usually loud. However, noise ebbs and flows and it can sometimes be difficult to determine the sound level. If you are at a bar or restaurant that seems especially loud, trust your gut and limit your exposure. There are apps for your smartphone that can help you easily measure the sound level in your environment. The National Institute of Occupational Safety (NIOSH) developed the award-winning Niosh Sound Level Meter which is free. However other sound meters are available and can be found in the app store.
For example, with a 115 decibel (dB) sound, the exposure limit is just 28 seconds. While this sound level is typically something like a firecracker or shotgun blast, rock concerts can also get this loud.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) exposure to noises, louder than 70 dB over 24 hours will damage hearing.
Wear protective hearing gear in loud environments
Earplugs expand to fit in your ear canal and can reduce noise by 15-30 decibels. Most drug stores or pharmacies carry earplugs, but you can have earplugs custom-made by an audiologist as musicians often do. Earmuffs fit over your ears and while they can also reduce noise by 15-30 decibels they do need to fit tightly over your ears to do so.
Remember, if you use hearing aids you need extra protection since the hearing aids pick up more sound. Regular earmuffs are often the best solution if you don't want to remove your hearing aids.
For those that use the Esteem, you can turn down the volume or change to a specific profile to mitigate noise.
If you use a hearing device pay attention to routine activities
Think about routine activities such as mowing the lawn, blowing leaves, using snowblowers, or simply being around loud equipment. If you are using hearing aids these activities will put your hearing at risk because the sound is already being amplified. Either remove your hearing aid, turn it down if it's an Esteem, and wear hearing protection.
Meet Esteem Partner Deborah Wilson Clark