Why do most people wear seat belts and bicycle helmets? To stay safe.
For a moment, ponder the lives saved and serious injuries avoided by those doing so, many driven by caring advocates or public awareness campaigns. Then, think quietly about noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL). While we typically focus on the necessity of treating hearing loss, we should focus intently on how to prevent it.
Did you know?
Approximately 26 million Americans have hearing loss that may be caused by exposure to noise at home, work and play? It’s noisy out there. Are you or a loved ones taking unnecessary risks?
Noise is measured in decibels (db), which is the relative loudness of sounds in the air as perceived by the human ear. NIHL may be caused by how loud noise is and how long you hear it for. Avoiding excessive noise and staying out of the danger zone will be music to your ears.
Research indicates most NIHL is caused by damage and eventual death of sensory hair cells in the ear which, unlike bird and amphibian hair cells, do not grow back.
As research states: “When you are exposed to loud noise over a long period of time, you may slowly start to lose your hearing. Because the damage from noise exposure is usually gradual, you might not notice it, or you might ignore the signs of hearing loss until they become more pronounced.”
During the season when Independence Day is celebrated, we should proactively understand how to free ourselves from NIHL. While fireworks are a yearly event, preserving healthy hearing should be your daily pursuit.
Noise-Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL)
- Can happen at any age and is potentially permanent.
- Affects up to 17% of children and teens (16-19.)
- Is caused by damaging the inner ear’s hair cells, which normally convert sound into signals the brain understands.
Other risk factors for NIHL include:
- Gender (Male)
- Cardiovascular disease
- Genetic factors
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure and these are practical ways to reduce the risk of NIHL:
- Know which noises can cause damage
- Wear earplugs or other protective devices
- If you cannot reduce the noise or protect yourself, move away from it
- Protect the ears of children too young to protect their own
From workplace environments to backyard lawnmowers or busy streets to noisy restaurants, limit exposure to deafening sound levels. While quiet moments are safe and sound, loud ones are danger zones.
While you learn how to prevent adult hearing loss, it is also crucial for your kids and grandkids to cautiously use their best buds.
Seeing us for periodic hearing evaluations will assess the degree of hearing loss you, your loved ones or colleagues have. By setting a positive example, those in your circle of influence will be encouraged to safely experience the joys of hearing, for life.
Precious sounds matter and our caring community must do more to save them.