We all know that basic hygiene includes actions like daily showering, brushing your teeth and washing your hands. But have you ever heard of sound hygiene, and how taking a few simple steps can help protect your hearing as you get older?
Read on as we discuss the dos and don’ts of hearing protection to help you practice good sound hygiene and maintain your hearing throughout your life.
4 Things to Do to Protect Your Hearing
1. Use Noise-Canceling Ear Protection
Music is a great mood booster that can help us find peace or add a little energy to our daily tasks. But if you’re listening to music in an already loud space, you may be tempted to crank up the volume (see “Don’t Tip #1” for the appropriate volume).
Instead of drowning out background noise with even louder music, opt for noise-canceling ear protection. This way, you can keep all of the outside noises out and enjoy your music at a volume that doesn’t harm your ears.
2. Take a Break Every 15 Minutes
Long-term exposure to loud noises is one of the most prevalent causes of hearing loss. Whether you’re attending a concert, sporting event or any noisy gathering, it’s important to step away at regular intervals to give your ears a break. After 15 minutes of loud noise exposure, try taking a break in a quieter area to keep your ears protected.
3. Take 18 Hours to Recover
If you find yourself in an avoidably loud space for an extended period, it is essential to give your ears plenty of time for rest and recovery afterward. We recommend settling into a quieter environment for at least 18 hours after experiencing very loud noise.
4. Have Awareness for the Loud Noises Around You
A decibel (dB) is a unit of measurement for sound. It’s a great idea to be aware of the decibel levels you are exposed to regularly since sounds higher than 85 dB can negatively impact your hearing. Most home appliances average between 40 and 60 dB, and a typical shout or bark can range from 80 to 125 dB.
Don’t become desensitized to loud noises around you— maintain proper awareness of your surrounding environment and avoid long-term exposure to noise when possible.
4 Things to Avoid to Protect Your Hearing
1. Don’t Listen to Super Loud Music
If you haven’t gotten the message yet, let us reiterate that extended listening to loud noise can be detrimental to your hearing. This is crucial when using earbuds or headphones to listen to audio media. Whether you’re enjoying your favorite music, podcasts or audiobooks, never listen at more than 60% of the maximum volume. For frequent headphones and earbuds users, be sure to read the next tip as well!
2. Don’t Wear Earbuds for Extended Periods Without a Break
We know it’s easy to get engrossed in a newly released album or an exciting podcast episode, but to better protect your hearing, we advise taking a minimum 5-minute break per hour of listening with earbuds or headphones. You can test your decibel exposure by using a mobile app such as Sound Meter.
3. Don’t Settle for Harmful Noise at Work
Anytime you expect to be around loud noise, especially for long periods at work, you should wear ear protection, either in the form of earmuffs or earplugs. The Occupational Noise Exposure Standard (1910.95) mandates that “Employers shall make hearing protectors available to all employees exposed to an 8-hour time-weighted average of 85 decibels or greater at no cost to the employees. Hearing protectors shall be replaced as necessary.”
If your work environment exposes you to loud noises, you have the right to noise protection.
4. Don’t Ignore Signs of Hearing Loss
Be sure to seek medical attention from your hearing specialist or Audiologist at the first sign of hearing loss. Common symptoms of hearing loss often include muffling of speech and other sounds, difficulty understanding words, especially if there are background noises, needing to turn up the volume on your tv, radio, etc., and frequently asking others to repeat themselves.
Recap: Top Tips for Hearing Loss Prevention
Use noise-canceling earbuds or headphones instead of raising the volume to cover up outside noises
Take a break from the noise every 15 minutes
Give your hearing 18 hours to recover after being exposed to loud noise
Be aware of loud noises around you
Listen to music at more than 60% of the maximum volume
Use earbuds or headphones for longer than an hour without taking a break
Expose yourself to loud noise for long periods of time at work
Ignore signs of hearing loss
Prevent Hearing Loss with Better Ear Protection:
Your hearing does not have to noticeably decline as you get older. By knowing some of the main causes of hearing loss and adjusting your lifestyle for better sound hygiene, you can protect your hearing for years to come. If you or a loved one is experiencing symptoms of hearing loss, schedule an appointment with one of our Audiology specialists for a hearing exam.