You might think that you haven’t done anything that would put you at risk, but a surprising number of everyday situations and common actions can have a lasting impact on your ability to hear. Being aware of the damage you can do to your hearing every day is essential – when you know where the risks lie, you can take action to prevent or mitigate further harm.
Renewed concerns about hearing loss arose with a 2010 study by the Journal of the American Medical Association that showed increased incidence of damage in young people. While some were quick to attribute that trend to loud music and listening to it on headphones, other risks in our environment can accumulate and result in gradual hearing loss.
The National Institutes of Health says that noises louder than 85 decibels can damage your hearing. Since many common activities fall into that dangerous range, it’s important to equip yourself with protection.
Consider these activities that most people are exposed to, and which can pose a risk:
* Mowing the lawn. At 90 decibels, this simple chore could be taking a toll on your hearing. It’s important to not simply shrug it off as something that you’ve always done. Wear hearing protection like over-ear headphones to muffle the sound and keep it to a lower level.
* Listening to headphones. While it’s not the only factor in hearing loss, listening to loud music on your headphones definitely poses a risk, as noise levels can easily ring in at 100 decibels. Parents should talk to children and teens about appropriate volume levels and instill good habits for listening to music.
* Sporting events. Indoor or outdoor, the cheering, rousing fight songs and play-by-play announcements add up to a very noisy environment, sometimes nearing 100 decibels. For anyone attending a sporting event, wearing hearing protection, like ear plugs, is important. If your kids are joining in on the fun, it’s essential that they wear appropriately-sized ear plugs.
* Concerts. With sound levels often reaching 120 decibels, rock concerts can have a serious effect on your hearing – in fact, according to the hearing experts, at those sound levels, there’s potential for damage in just seven minutes. You should always bring hearing protection to concerts, and if your kids and teens want to go, start teaching them early on that there’s nothing uncool about wearing ear plugs to protect their hearing.
As hearing impairment starts showing up in younger generations, it means that they will have to live longer with the problems it causes. Those with damaged hearing might feel the effects in different ways; it can have an impact on learning, work performance, earning power and social interactions.
Because hearing loss is often cumulative, building up over the years, it’s important to start preventing damage as soon as possible. Using hearing protection products, you don’t need to completely avoid the fun, noisy activities that can be a problem. By wearing ear plugs, keeping the volume down and protecting yourself, you’ll be able to keep on enjoying life for years to come.