More causes of hearing loss are impossible to prevent. However noise-induced hearing loss is not.
Noise-induced hearing loss
Noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) is a type of sensorineural hearing loss that occurs as a result of prolonged or intense exposure to loud sounds. It is one of the most common and preventable causes of hearing impairment.
Noise-induced hearing loss can be temporary or permanent and typically affects both ears equally.
NIHL is largely preventable by taking steps to reduce or eliminate exposure to loud noises. This includes wearing hearing protection like earplugs or earmuffs, maintaining a safe distance from loud sources, and limiting exposure time.
- Know what sounds are too loud ( anything above 85dB ).
- Either avoid loud sound or limit your exposure or proximity to them.
- Wear hearing protection when you can’t avoid or move a safe distance from loud noises.
10 tips to help protect your hearing
Use Hearing Protection: When exposed to loud environments, such as concerts, sporting events, or industrial workplaces, wear hearing protection like earplugs or earmuffs. Make sure they are appropriately rated for the noise level.
Keep the Volume Down: When using personal audio devices, like headphones or earbuds, keep the volume at a safe and comfortable level. A general guideline is to use the “60/60” rule: keep the volume at or below 60% of the maximum level for no more than 60 minutes at a time.
Take Breaks: Give your ears periodic breaks from exposure to loud sounds. This is especially important if you work in noisy environments or attend noisy events.
Maintain a Safe Distance: Whenever possible, maintain a safe distance from sources of loud noise, such as speakers at concerts, power tools, or machinery.
Limit Exposure: Reduce the amount of time you spend in noisy environments. Consider staying in quieter areas if you’re in a loud place for an extended period.
Use Noise-Canceling Headphones: If you frequently listen to music or watch videos with headphones, consider using noise-canceling headphones. These can help you hear your audio content without the need for high volumes.
Protect Your Ears While Motorcycling: If you ride a motorcycle or enjoy other noisy recreational activities, use proper hearing protection, such as custom-fitted earplugs or specialized helmet inserts.
Avoid Firearm Noise: When shooting firearms, always wear hearing protection designed for shooting sports. The noise from guns can cause significant hearing damage.
Educate Yourself: Learn about the noise levels associated with different activities and environments. Being aware of potential risks can help you make informed decisions to protect your hearing.
Regular Hearing Checkups: Schedule regular hearing evaluations with an audiologist or ear specialist to monitor your hearing health and catch any problems early. Early detection and intervention are essential.
Frequently asked questions
For the most part, hearing loss is not preventable. Hearing loss caused by aging (the leading cause), disease, genetics, injury or biology cannot be prevented. However, noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) — the second leading cause of hearing loss — is preventable.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, exposure to sounds 85 decibels (dB) and above can damage your hearing. The louder or higher decibel the sound is, the less exposure time is required for hearing loss to occur.
While there is little you can do to prevent most causes of hearing loss, you can prevent noise-induced hearing loss (the second most common cause) by following good hearing protection practices.