Healthy Habits to Protect Your Hearing

We’re almost three months into the new year now, which means most of us broke our resolutions two and a half months ago. But it’s never too late to start practicing healthy habits, and with hearing loss in Simi Valley and throughout California so prevalent, adopting preventative strategies now help prevent problems in the future.

Noise-Induced Hearing Loss

lawn mower

Hearing loss is a widespread health concern, affecting some 48 million Americans. Though it becomes more common the older we get, age isn’t the only factor that causes people to lose their hearing. Noise-induced hearing loss is a growing concern in Simi Valley, especially among younger people.

Over five million children in the U.S. aged 6-19 experience hearing loss as a result of exposure to loud noise. Playing with noisy toys, listening to loud music through earbuds or headphones and recreational activities like riding dirt bikes and hunting are a few of the more common ways hearing loss can affect children and teens. Left untreated, its impact is far-reaching: a hearing impairment can have negative consequences on your physical and psychological health, career, relationships, social activities and safety. Taking steps to prevent hearing loss before it occurs will lower your chances of falling prey to these and other side effects.

We are exposed to harmful noise levels all the time, but often don’t give them a second thought or stop to consider the dangers they pose to our hearing. Everyday activities that can cause permanent damage include:

  • Mowing the lawn
  • Attending a rock concert
  • Exposure to traffic sounds
  • Setting off or watching fireworks
  • Attending sporting events
  • Shooting a gun
  • Listening to music that is too loud
  • Being near a construction site
  • Riding a motorcycle or other noisy vehicle, such as a snowmobile or jet ski

As prevalent as noise-induced hearing loss has become, the good news is, it is almost completely preventable.

How to Prevent Noise-Induced Hearing Loss

Your Simi Valley audiologist warns that exposure to sounds louder than 85 decibels (dB) can cause irreversible hearing loss. Every activity in the above list has sounds considerably higher than 85 dB. If you’re ever unsure just how noisy your environment is, there are several free smartphone apps that can give you a pretty good estimate of the decibel levels you are being exposed to.

Tips for preventing hearing loss in Simi Valley include:

  • Wear hearing protection any time you are going to be exposed to noisy activities, especially concerts and loud sporting events, mowing the lawn, setting off fireworks or participating in recreational activities like shooting, motorcycling and snowmobiling.
  • Avoid turning your music up to drown out other sounds. Instead, use sound-isolating or noise-canceling headphones; these block out external sounds, allowing you to listen to music at a comfortable and safe level.
  • Turn down the volume. A good rule of thumb is to set the volume level no higher than 60 percent of maximum. If you’re listening to music through earbuds or headphones and others can hear it, it’s too loud.
  • Take a break. If you’re at a concert or other event and don’t have hearing protection, take occasional breaks to give your ears a rest. Keep a safe distance from speakers and other audio sources. The same applies when listening to music through earbuds or headphones for extended periods.

Try setting good examples for others, as well. If you’re attending a noisy event with a friend or family member, bring an extra pair of earplugs for your companion to wear. If you have children who like to listen to music on a phone or other personal device, buy them earbuds or headphones that have safe sound limits. And when purchasing gifts for children, avoid toys that are dangerously loud. The Sight and Hearing Association publishes an annual list around the prime holiday gift-giving season that warns of top offenders.

For more strategies on ensuring healthy hearing, feel free to speak with an audiologist in Simi Valley.

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