How to protect your hearing

Poor hearing can be a debilitating condition capable of seriously affecting your quality of life.  Most cases of deafness in the UK are caused by damage to the tiny cells in the inner ear – damage typically resultant from exposure to too much noise in one go.  What’s more, this sort of damage is permanent.

Today, we’re going to look at how you can reduce the risk of damaging your hearing.

Work out if you’re exposed to too much noise day-to-day

We’ve covered this area before, but the main gist of it is this: you’re probably exposed to more hazardous noise than you think.  Hearing can be damaged by something as commonplace as standing next to speakers at a nightclub or using loud machinery for even a moderate period of time. 

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) notes that any noises above 105dB can start to cause permanent damage to your hearing if endured for longer than 15 minutes each week.   Lower level noises – such as those between 85 and 90dB are also capable of causing permanent damage if you’re exposed to them for longer spells.

Examples of typical noises include:

  • Normal conversation 60-65dB
  • Lawn Mowers 85dB
  • Heavy traffic 85dB
  • Hand drill 98dB
  • Motorbikes 100dB
  • Loud Mp3 players 112dB
  • Ambulance sirens 120dB

Yes, the chances are that even your mp3 player is probably causing permanent damage to your hearing.

Protect yourself

So, how can you go about protecting your ears?  Here are a number of ways:

  • Earplugs.  You knew we were going to bring this up, right?  Well, if you’re ever in a situation where you know you’re going to be exposed to loud noise, then you should definitely consider investing in a pair of earplugs.  Even the cheapest pair will substantially cut down the risk of damage.
  • Turn down music.  There’s nothing wrong with listening to music all day (music is awesome, everybody knows that) but absolutely do not crank your player right the way up.  If you can’t hear any external sounds whilst your headphones are on, then they’re too loud.  Try not to go up any louder than around 60%.
  • Don’t write off talking.  Whether you’re watching your favourite show, listening to a podcast or simply chatting with your mates in the pub, speech still counts as noise.  You’d be amazed just how much of a positive difference simply turning down the volume (or asking your friends to lower their voices!) can make.
  • Don’t put up with noise at work.  If you work in a noisy environment, then invest in a good pair of ear defenders.  It’s definitely not good to be exposed to machinery all day!  If you’re in an office environment, then discuss this with HR.
  • Rest your ears.  According to Deafness Research UK, you need to spend at least 16 hours resting your ears in order to recover from just two hours spent at a noisy environment like a nightclub.  The more rest you give your ears, the better.

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