Simple Solutions To Protect Your Hearing
The world is a noisy place. From city traffic and subway trains to noisy restaurants and rock concerts, our hearing is often being pushed to the limit by exposure to high decibel noise. For music lovers and audiophiles, keeping our hearing intact without significant damage is a challenge worth pursuing. But there are some simple ways to reduce the risk of serious hearing damage. First let’s look at a few of the facts.
According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Diseases approximately 15 percent of Americans between the ages of 20 and 69 have hearing loss that may have been caused by noise exposure at work or leisure activities. This type of hearing loss is called Noise Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL). NIHL damage is permanent and cannot be reversed. Symptoms can range from a slight attenuation in overall hearing to a ringing in the ears and can often take a long time to become noticeable. This is because the damage is caused over time by repeated (and lengthy) exposure to high decibel noise. The most familiar symptom of extreme NIHL is tinnitus. This is typically indicated by a ringing or long lasting loud sound in the ears that becomes severely distracting. Although it can fade in time, tinnitus is often permanent and difficult to treat.
There are some simple steps you can take to protect your hearing from NIHL damage and keep your ears prime for pristine audiophile music enjoyment.
- Try to avoid prolonged exposure to high-decibel noises (especially over 85dB). This includes city noise, trains, loud restaurants, live shows, power equipment, sirens, motorcycles, guns and fireworks.
- Keep your headphone volume limited. Most portable devices have a volume limiter function so you don’t accidentally flip on the music at full volume and shock your hearing. Sadly most of us don’t use this. You’ll also want to limit prolonged exposure to extremely long exposure to high volume music when using headphones as it wears out your hearing, causing you to turn it up. Even the best studio mixing engineers have a limit on how long they work on a mix because it becomes impossible to get an accurate mix when your ears are tired.
- Ear plugs, ear plugs, ear plugs. Whether riding a motorcycle, firing a gun at a shooting range or attending a rock concert, there are affordable and simple earplugs designed for every occasion. Two of the best companies for hearing protection products are Etymotic and Westone. Both companies have developed earplugs that can easily attenuate noise by 20dB or more. This means you’ll still be able to hear the music at a live event without completely blocking all the good frequencies. It’s like simply turning the volume down. They even provide in ear products for construction and military use. Most drug stores also provide earplugs that will save your hearing in one of those last minute situations where you forgot your special attenuating earplugs.
Whatever in-ear options you choose to protect your hearing at high decibel levels, limiting your overall exposure to loud noise will help keep your ears in tip-top shape so you can enjoy your favorite music and sounds for a lifetime.