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People keep talking about hearing loss from daily living, and the need to protect your hearing. You don’t work in manufacturing or construction, and you don’t drive a motorcycle, so you should be fine, right? How do you know what sounds cause hearing loss, or when something loud is too loud? And isn’t hearing loss something you only have to worry about when you get old?
It’s not All About Age
Hearing loss affects millions of Americans of all ages and from all walks of life. It’s not just manual laborers who risk hearing loss, but office workers and housewives who are all exposed to every day loud sounds. More and more young people experience hearing loss, and 14% of Americans between the ages of 45 and 64 have been diagnosed with hearing loss. Most seniors with hearing loss start losing their hearing much earlier due to dangerously loud workplaces or exposure to too many dangerous noise levels in their everyday life.
Types of Hearing Loss
There are 3 types of hearing loss: conductive, sensorineural, and mixed. Conductive hearing loss is caused by a mechanical problem in the ear. This can be due to illness, infection, ear wax, or damage to the outer or middle ear. This kind of hearing loss can often be treated by medication or other interventions.
Sensorineural hearing loss is the most common form of hearing loss, and it’s caused by loud noises that damage the delicate hair cells in the inner ear. This affects young and old alike, and is becoming more and more common in our noisy cities. Sensorineural hearing loss is treated with hearing aids.
Mixed hearing loss is hearing loss caused by both conductive and sensorineural damage, and is usually treated with hearing aids.
Common Noises that Cause Permanent Hearing Loss
So how do you know how loud is too loud? Everything around us, from city traffic and road construction to our TVs and household appliances, can be very noisy. It’s all in the decibel (dB) levels. As a reference point, normal conversations are around 60 dB. Hearing loss will occur if you’re exposed to dangerous levels over 85 dB for long periods of time. For sounds over 120 dB, even a single exposure can cause permanent damage.
Garbage trucks and lawn mowers are around 100 dB. Continuous exposure to these sounds for several hours will lead to permanent hearing loss.
Ambulance sirens and rock concerts have decibel levels between 120 and 140. All it takes is a minute or less of exposure to these sounds to damage your hearing!
Perhaps the most common thing that damages your hearing is so ordinary that you don’t think twice about it. Your personal electronic device, which you use in your daily commute, or to block out other sounds you don’t want to hear, can be turned up to dangerously high levels often exceeding 120 dB. Earbuds and headphones make this worse, by blasting the sound very close to your ears. Listening to you iPod at unsafe levels for a few hours every day will cause hearing loss in just a few hours or days.
Protect Your Hearing
If you’re wondering if something is safe, it probably isn’t. Turn down the volume, walk away from the noise, or wear ear plugs. Make sure you protect your ears when working with loud equipment like the lawnmower, and take hearing protection to that concert you’re attending this weekend. Keep the volume on your iPod safe with a volume control app, and consider investing in noise cancelling headphones so you can listen to music without damaging your hearing.
Hearing specialists also recommend the 60-60 rule for music listening: 60% volume for no more than 60 minutes a day. Giving your ears a rest is good for your hearing.
Dealing with Hearing Loss
If you have hearing loss, seek treatment! Ignoring your hearing loss doesn’t make it go away. Living with untreated hearing loss will put a strain on your relationships, make simple tasks difficult, and even put your safety at risk. Early diagnosis and treatment will prevent your hearing from deteriorating further, and will make adjusting to your new hearing aid a breeze.
Hearing aids will improve your hearing, and let you get back to the more important things in life like sharing those special moments with your spouse or grandkids. The average person with hearing loss will wait up to 7 years before seeking treatment! Don’t be one of them. There’s nothing holding you back, so call us at Hearing Aid Associates to book an appointment today.