While hearing loss can develop naturally as you age, most cases of hearing loss are completely preventable.Hearing loss has several known causes, but the most common is loud noise exposure. This is called noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL).
Along with noise exposure, other common causes of hearing loss include illness, disease, ear injury, head trauma and ototoxic medication. By understanding why hearing loss develops, you can take steps to prevent it throughout your lifetime.
Protecting Your Hearing from Noise Exposure
NIHL can occur gradually, quickly or instantly depending on how loud of a noise causes damage. Generally, any sound exceeding 85 dB is considered dangerous for your ears, though hearing loss can occur at even quieter levels. Though NIHL is becoming more and more common, the good news is that it’s preventable. Audiologists recommend that patients in Largo protect their hearing by:
- Wearing quality hearing protection. Invest in quality custom earmolds or other protective devices recommended by your audiologist. Keep these devices with you and wear them anytime you might potentially be exposed to loud noise. Some examples of when you should wear hearing protection include when you attend concerts, go to sporting events, shoot firearms, work around machinery, use power tools, ride in or on a loud vehicle and mow the lawn.
- Turning down the volume. The rapid increase in cases of NIHL is mostly attributed to the popularity of entertainment devices and personal music players. It’s vital to keep the volume low anytime you use earbuds or headphones to listen to music or watch videos. You should also focus on turning down the volume when you watch TV or movies or listen to audio in your home or car.
- Limiting use of loud tools, equipment and appliances. It’s important to use hearing protection anytime you use a tool or appliance that produces sounds over 85 dB. However, using more than one quieter piece of equipment at a time can also add up to hearing loss. Try to only run one thing at a time, and always check the decibel level output on new appliances and tools before you buy them.
- Understanding decibel levels. Do you know how loud 85 dB is? Most people don’t, but understanding what potentially damaging noises sound like is the only way to ensure you can protect your hearing. While there are tools to measure decibel levels, most people opt to simply use a decibel meter app on their smartphones. You can also find out the decibel output of many appliances by checking the label.
Protecting Your Hearing from Other Factors
Healthy living can go a long way in protecting your hearing. Largo residents can avoid hearing loss from disease, injury and medication simply by caring for their health. Here’s a look at what to avoid in order to protect your hearing effectively:
- Ototoxic diseases: Conditions that can damage your hearing include viral diseases such as measles, mumps, whooping cough and rubella as well as bacterial infections like meningitis and syphilis. Untreated ear infections and other illnesses can also result in permanent hearing damage. You can prevent these conditions by staying current on vaccinations, using protection if you’re sexually active and seeking immediate medical treatment if you fall ill.
- Injury or trauma: Head, neck and ear injuries don’t always result in hearing loss, but they certainly can in many cases. While injury isn’t always avoidable, you can take steps to prevent it by wearing your seatbelt, using protective gear during physical activities and contact sports and avoiding dangerous situations.
- Ototoxic medications: Many medications are known to be ototoxic, which means auditory system damage is a common side effect. Some ototoxic medications include aspirin and other salicylate pain relievers, diuretics, quinine, certain antibiotics and some chemotherapy drugs. Always talk to your doctor and audiologist about side effects of prescription and over-the-counter medications before you begin taking them, and opt for non-ototoxic drugs when you can.
Each person’s ears are different, which is why store-bought earbuds and earplugs are often uncomfortable after just a few hours of use. One-size-fits-all isn’t always the best option for in-ear devices. The solution? Custom earmolds from Audiology Innovations, which offer top-notch comfort and fit.
Custom earmolds are made from a silicone mold crafted for your individual ears. The benefits of custom earmolds over generic styles are plentiful. They fit perfectly, guarantee long-term comfort, heighten your hearing, improve sound acoustics and provide varying features depending on your needs. There are many types of custom earmolds, including:
- Earbuds and headphones: If you’re a fan of music, custom earbuds will give you the ultimate listening experience. They completely block out unwanted sounds while delivering quality acoustics, allowing you to hear the music as the artist intended at a safe volume.
- Earplugs: Earplugs are helpful for sleeping and protecting your hearing during noisy activities. Many people in the manufacturing and construction sectors also use earplugs while working. The only way to ensure your ears are truly protected, sound is fully blocked out and you’re comfortable over many hours is through the use of custom earmolds.
- Earpieces: A variety of professions use devices made from custom earmolds for their communications needs. Since people in these professions must wear their earpieces for hours each day, custom earmolds are the best way to ensure comfort and hearing safety.
- Hunter’s earmolds: Uniquely designed hunter’s plugs are custom earmolds that protect your ears from the loud noise cause by firearms. They are useful for hunters, shooters at ranges, law enforcement officers, and members of the military. Hunter’s earmolds allow low-volume sounds you need to hear like rustling branches to reach your ears, but they block out loud gunshots using a tiny valve that closes when hit with noise loud enough to damage your ears.
- Musician’s monitors: This special type of custom earmold functions as both earplugs and earbuds simultaneously. They’re designed for musicians, especially drummers and those who play electric instruments. Musician’s monitors deliver clear, quality feedback directly to your ears at a safe volume level while blocking out the potentially damaging noises from surrounding speakers and instruments.
- Swimmer’s earplugs: Ear infections, swimmer’s ear and surfer’s ear are common ear-related issues caused by spending time in the water. Swimmer’s plugs prevent these damaging and painful conditions by preventing any water to enter the ear. Swimmers, those who participate in aquatic activities and people prone to ear infections should always invest in waterproof custom earmolds.
Audiology Innovations offers hearing protection through custom ear molds, electronic ear plugs, ear monitors, filtered ear plugs, and radio communication. Used correctly and consistently, this protection can mean the difference between hearing normally in years to come, or premature, diminished hearing.