October is Audiology Awareness Month and the perfect time to discuss all the different ways you can prioritize your hearing health.
One of the most important things you can do is protect your hearing from loud noises that can damage your ears.
The Risks of Noise-induced Hearing Loss
While you may assume that only extremely loud noises like explosions can cause hearing damage, any repeated exposure to volume levels above 85 decibels (dB) has the potential to cause hearing loss. For reference, this is roughly the equivalent of the volume of city traffic.
Many common activities are loud enough to cause noise-induced hearing loss, including:
- Working in fields like construction or manufacturing
- Hunting or shooting
- Riding motorcycles and snowmobiles
- Attending rock concerts
- Going to live sporting events
- Listening to music at high volume through earbuds or headphones
- Mowing the lawn
- Using a leaf blower
Take Steps To Protect Your Hearing
Just because certain loud activities pose a risk does not mean you have to avoid them entirely. You just need to take the right steps to protect your hearing. This includes:
- Use hearing protection devices like earplugs, custom earmolds or earmuffs when you know you’re going to be exposed to loud volumes. If exposure happens at work, your employer should provide hearing protection for you. A survey from 2018 of people attending loud athletic and entertainment events found that only 8% reported consistent use of hearing protection devices at these events.
- Keep the volume at a reasonable level when you listen to music with headphones or earbuds. Some smartphones even have health apps that can track how loud you are listening to music to help you ensure the volume levels stay in the safe zone.
- Schedule an appointment for a hearing test at the first sign of any hearing loss.
Signs of Hearing Loss
While, unfortunately, noise-induced hearing loss is permanent, the sooner you seek treatment, the more likely it is that you can protect your ears from further damage.
The signs of hearing loss are often subtle at first, and for some people, it’s actually a family member or friend commenting on their hearing that is the first sign. Other early symptoms include:
- Tinnitus (ringing in the ear)
- Having trouble following phone conversations
- Needing to turn the volume up on the TV or radio louder than you used to
- Feeling as though people are often mumbling
- Difficulty following conversations in places with a lot of background noise, such as a busy restaurant like Rancho Santa Fe Bistro
If you have experienced any of these signs or have other concerns about your hearing, call Rancho Santa Fe Audiology and schedule an appointment with one of our experts today.