Hearing loss may seem like an unavoidable fact of life. Your vision will degrade over time, damage to your joints will affect your mobility—and hearing loss may be just one more thing you have to cope with in your golden years.
While you cannot prevent every type of hearing problem, it is possible to prevent the annoying ringing in your ears that often accompanies hearing loss. This sound, known as tinnitus, in some cases is even worse than the loss of your hearing.
Is There Really a Way to Prevent Tinnitus?
Many hearing care professionals agree that a large portion of Americans with hearing loss could have prevented many of their symptoms by taking simple precautions. Millions of U.S. residents are exposed to dangerous noise levels every day, placing them at risk of permanent effects due to noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL).
No matter the season, there are always instances where people should take steps to protect their hearing. According to the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA), individuals should wear ear protection if the environment becomes louder than 85 decibels (dB). Noise levels can easily go above this safe limit in everyday situations, including:
- Using power tools. Although many workers in construction trades wear hearing equipment when hammering, sawing, and working with power tools, people are just at risk of hearing damage from at home tool use. The most common culprits are lawn mowers (which can emit noise levels over 90 dB) and leaf blowers (around 100 dB). Using earplugs while using these items can reduce noise levels by up to 35 dB.
- Sailing speedboats. Summer may be drawing to a close, but the odds are good you’ll be setting out on the boat the minute warm weather comes back around. Noise levels for jet skis, power boats, and other fast watercraft can easily exceed 90 dB, so pack earplugs along with your picnic lunch and safety gear.
- Riding motorcycles. Motorcycle riding is far more dangerous than driving in a car for many reasons, including the risk of hearing damage. Bikers can be exposed to noise levels in excess of 95 dB, causing moderate to severe hearing damage in as little as four hours.
- Listening to music. While rock concerts may be the typical example of damaging noise levels, even a small indoor concert can be loud enough to cause trauma—especially if there is amplification. In addition, wearing headphones and watching TV at high volumes can damage your hearing just as much as a live rock concert, so be mindful of the volume settings on your electronics.
- Attending sporting events. Stadiums are about to fill up for weekend games once more, placing thousands of Americans at risk of high noise levels for hours on end. Always wear your earplugs, as stadiums can produce 115 dB of noise, placing you and your children at risk of hearing damage in just 15 minutes. If you are taking the kids to a live sporting event, make sure they have earmuffs, which reduce noise levels by up to 22 dB.
- Riding snowmobiles. Ear plugs and ear muffs are best used together when riding snowmobiles, which can produce constant noise over 100 dB. Not only will doubling your hearing protection reduce your risk, it will help keep your ears warm as you ride.
How Can I Tell If an Activity Is Loud Enough to Damage My Hearing?
Most people do not carry a decibel meter with them, making it hard to tell when they are at risk of hearing damage. A good rule of thumb is that you should use hearing protection in any environment where you have to shout to be heard by the person standing next to you. If this happens when you are not able to wear earplugs or muffle the sound, try to find a quieter area (such as a restroom) where you can go to give your ears a break every fifteen to twenty minutes.
If you have noticed a ringing in your ears that won’t go away, we can help you find a solution to the problem. Call us at 888-262-2613 to set up an appointment with one of our hearing care professionals today!