Our ears provide us with one of our precious 5 senses, so it makes sense to treat them better. Find out how you can protect your hearing from damage with our tips on ear safety.
According to statistics, over 25 million Americans have suffered permanent hearing damage, and the primary cause of this is excessive exposure to noise. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), hearing loss is the third most common medical condition in the US. An estimate of more than 12% of the children and 17% of the US population make up this number. You would not want to be one of these millions so it is important to know how to protect your ears from damage.
Any kind of damage to your ears can result in hearing loss and it can be classified according to which part of your ear is affected. It can be conductive, sensorineural, and mixed. In most cases, loss of hearing or deafness is caused by damages to the tiny hair cells in the middle ear. Unfortunately, these damages are irreversible and are permanent.
Typically, the sounds that we hear every day are not harmful nor damaging. However, there are activities that we do and participate in which produce harmful sound levels. Some of these activities are attending loud events such as sports activities and music concerts. Constant exposure to loud noises such as power tools and machinery can also cause permanent damage in the long run.
The harmful, loud sounds can cause damages to sensitive parts of our ears and aside from hearing loss, these may also result to other conditions such as tinnitus or ringing or buzzing in the ear, and hyperacusis or increased sensitivity to sound.
Losing one of your senses will have a major impact on how you live. That is why it is important to take precautionary measures while you still can. Here are a few tips on how you can protect your ears from damages:
- Wear earplugs. This is probably the easiest and simplest way on how you can protect your ear. Wearing earplugs or earmuffs can help reduce the amount of noise that you hear, especially if you are constantly exposed to it. For instance, if your work requires a lot of shouting or exposure to loud tools and equipment, wearing earplugs is a good way to reduce potential damages.
You can still ear earplugs even for your leisure activities. If you know that you are going to an event or a place where there will be a lot of noise, bring your earplugs and be ready to protect your ears when necessary.
If like me, you love live music, then special noise canceling earplugs can be used. These let you enjoy the music, but protect them from excessive noise.
Check out our guide on hearing protection for kids.
- Turn down the volume. Many people are at risk of losing their hearing because of unsafe use of audio devices. You can still enjoy listening to music without having to use the maximum level of your device’s volume.
Follow the 60:60 rule which says that you should not exceed 60% of the maximum volume of your music player for no more than 60 minutes a day. This might be a challenge, especially for the younger generation who almost spend the whole day listening to music, but it is a must if they want to protect their ears from damage.
Using headphones is also better than earbuds because the latter is positioned directly on your eardrums so it can bring more risk to your hearing than headphones. In fact, specialists suggest using headphones, which have noise-canceling features so that background noise can be eliminated and you do not have to turn up the volume of your music.
Also, never listen to music to drown out background noise. Music is too loud when your ears start feeling uncomfortable and you can no longer hear external sounds while wearing your headphones. When the person next to you can hear the music even when you are wearing headphones, then it is obviously very loud for you.
- Allow your ears to rest and recover. Sometimes, silence is good for you, especially if you are constantly wearing headphones and listening to music or your job and daily activities involve a lot of noise. You can refer to it as a hearing detox wherein you avoid any type of noise for at least 16 hours. That is the recommended length of rest for your ears after spending around two hours in 100db sounds such as when partying or going to a club, according to Action on Hearing Loss which is a charity involved in providing support for people with hearing loss and tinnitus.
- Keep your ears dry and avoid using cotton swabs. Ear infections can be caused by water entering your ears because it can be the carrier of bacteria. Ear infections can also damage your hearing so you can avoid this by preventing water from entering your ears. If you frequently swim, you should invest in a swimmer’s earplugs because they can keep water from your ears while you swim.
Also, avoid using cotton swabs because it is not the right way to clean your ears. The best way is to clean around your ear canal using a damp cloth and the best time is after taking a bath or a shower. If you are worried about earwax, you should not be. It may seem to be gunky and dirty, but earwax actually has a vital function in your ears. It keeps dust and dirt particles away from the ear canal and prevents them from damaging the eardrums.
- Do not take medicines without a doctor’s prescription. There are certain types of medications which could lead to hearing loss and they are known as ototoxic medications. They are poisonous to the ears and can permanently damage hair cells in your inner ear. That is why it is very important to not self-medicate and always consult your doctor for safe treatments and medications.
Your lifestyle and daily routine can greatly affect your health, so make sure that you are not doing anything which can be harmful to your health. You would not want to lose one of your precious senses. It helps to know how to protect your ears from damage so that you will not have any problems with your hearing. Remember, damage to your ears may result in hearing loss and that is irreversible.
If you’re worried about excessive noise in the home, then take a look at our guide to soundproofing. We tackle noise coming through windows, doors, walls, floors, and ceilings.