How to Protect Hearing
The hearing is one of the most important senses, allowing you to communicate, learn and enjoy things like good music or conversation. However, many people do not realize that their ears are exposed daily to a large amount of potentially harmful noise (and other harmful factors). It is essential to protect your hearing from strong sound waves and other dangerous elements.
Understanding Hearing Loss
1) Documented on the loss of auditory perception related to noise.
Frequent or prolonged exposure to intense noise is one of the most common causes of deafness, despite being a completely preventable type of impairment.
The human brain perceives sound thanks to a spiral-shaped organ in the inner ear called a cochlea. This organ is covered by thousands of small hairs that react to the vibrations of sound waves transforming them into electrical impulses that the brain is able to decode. 20 MAY 2018
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When the ears are exposed to intense noises, these small hairs are damaged and hearing loss occurs. Sometimes even short but very loud noises (such as those emitted by fireworks or a firearm) can lead to this result, but generally the greatest responsibility is to be attributed to regular exposure to sound waves that are too intense ( listen to music at excessive volume, work in an extremely noisy environment). It is essential to understand that once created, this type of damage is not reversible. For this reason, it is important to take all precautionary measures to protect your hearing before it is too late.
2) Learn to identify potentially dangerous noise levels.
Much of the process to protect this delicate sense is to recognize when the sound reaches a potentially harmful intensity. This way you have a clearer idea of what you should avoid.
Prolonged exposure to noise exceeding 85 decibels is considered harmful to the ears. To be able to quantify what this value represents, read this list:
Normal conversation: from 60 to 65 dB;
Motorbike or grass trimmer: from 85 to 95 dB;
Disco music: 110 dB;
Music played by an MP3 player at maximum volume: 112 dB;
Ambulance siren: 120 dB.
By putting preventive measures into practice to reduce noise levels by just a few decibels, you are greatly benefiting your ears. This is because at each 3 dB increase in the intensity of the sound waves the amount of sound energy released doubles.
As a result, the amount of time you can safely listen to a certain sound decreases rapidly as the volume increases. For example, you can comfortably spend 8 hours listening to a sound at 85 dB, but you can be safely exposed to a sound of over 100 dB for only 15 minutes.
If you can not converse with a person who is two meters away from you without shouting, then the ambient noise is too intense and is hurting your hearing.
3) If you suspect you have a problem with your ears, go to an otolaryngologist.
If you can not feel well or have an otalgia, it is worth asking a specialist doctor.
Depending on the problem, you should contact an otolaryngologist or an audiologist.
Both will perform a series of tests to see if your hearing has been damaged.
Although there is no cure for the loss of this sense, there are devices that can help you by increasing the sound waves entering the ears. Obviously, these are expensive solutions that do not guarantee 100% results, so prevention and protection work is even more vital.
Preventing Deafness Linked to Noise
4) Lower the volume of the music.
The habit of listening to music at full blast through the earphones has been identified as one of the main causes of hearing the loss in the young population.
The volume of the MP3 player is too high if it completely isolates you from environmental sounds or if listening to you annoys you. Use headphones instead of earphones, as they offer better sound quality at a lower volume.
Follow the 60/60 rule when using the MP3 player. This means that you should listen to music at 60% of maximum volume for no more than 60 minutes.
You should also be cautious when listening to music indoors, such as a car interior. If you turn down the volume even slightly, you can do a great favour to your hearing.
5) Protect your ears at work.
Some workplaces can be defined as “dangerous environments for hearing” because people who work there are exposed to loud noises for long periods. These include the factories with noisy machinery and construction sites.
Currently, the law provides strict rules on the personal protection of workers, including hearing. Employees must wear earphones to muffle sound or custom hearing protectors if the daily noise level is above 85 dB.
However, people who are self-employed are responsible for their hearing, so do not forget to wear protectors when you are working on cutting grass or renovating your home.
If you are concerned about the noise level at your workplace, discuss with a working doctor, safety officer or a representative of the personnel department.
6) Be careful when going to concerts and shows.
Participating in shows or concerts where you play live music at full blast can damage your hearing. For example, many people perceive tinnitus at the end of a concert and this must be a warning sign.
To protect your ears while listening to music, choose the place strategically so that you are not “hit” directly by the sound waves coming from amplifiers, speakers or monitors on the stage. The further you are away from the source of sound the better.
Take “silence breaks”. If you are spending the evening at a disco or in a club where there is music, then you should go out for 5 minutes every hour. All you need to do is give a little pause to the auditory system to avoid constant exposure to the sounds and get some benefit from them.
Alternatively, wear earplugs while listening to live music. In this way, you reduce the sound intensity by 15-35 dB without feeling “muffled” and without spoiling the fun.
If you are a musician, try to avoid performances “at full volume” and wear caps when you play, if possible.
7) Protect the hearing of children and newborns.
If you are pregnant, it is important to avoid loud noises, since the hearing of the fetus can also be damaged inside the uterus. In the same way, infants and children have thin cranial walls and a developing hearing system, so they are extremely sensitive to loud noises.
If you are pregnant, do not go to concerts where you play music at a very high volume and avoid work environments where the noise exceeds 85 dB (the intensity of the noise emitted by a motor of a motorcycle), since these factors are related to hearing the loss in children. In addition, exposure to acoustic pollution during gestation has been linked to underweight at birth and premature birth.
Newborns should never be subjected to sudden loud noises. Each sound above 80 dB has been shown to be interconnected to hearing loss and anxiety in children.
Young children have a more sensitive hearing than adults, so if a room is noisy for you, it is even more so for your child. Buy protective headphones or earphones and avoid taking children to noisy places like rock concerts or seating them in the front rows during a fireworks display.
Avoiding Other Causes of Damage to the User
8) Pay attention to drugs and ototoxic chemicals.
This term identifies medicines and chemical agents that have the potential to damage hearing.
Among the most common drugs that have this serious side effect, we mention salicylates (such as aspirin) and antimalarials. Very concentrated solvents (industrial ones) have been related to damage to the auditory system.
To prevent the ability to hear to be altered by drugs and chemicals, take medicines as you have been told and inform the doctor of any strange side effect.
If your tasks involve using chemical solvents, then talk to a jobbing doctor or safety officer to find out what preventative measures you need to take.
9) Protect yourself from diseases that can cause deafness.
There are various diseases and diseases that can lead to hearing loss. The most common are measles, mumps, rubella, whooping cough, meningitis and syphilis.
The best way to avoid becoming deaf because of these diseases is to avoid contracting them.
Submit infants and children to vaccines and have your doctor visit immediately when you get sick because timely diagnosis and treatment can prevent the development of serious complications such as deafness.
Avoid sexually transmitted diseases such as syphilis using condoms during intercourse.
10) Pay attention to the cranial traumas.
Damage to the middle and inner ear caused by a head injury can lead to deafness. For this reason, it is important to protect yourself from cranial traumas in any way possible.
Always wear a helmet when riding a motorcycle or a bicycle or a helmet, if you play contact sports because even a concussion can interfere with your ability to hear. Always fasten your seat belts when travelling by car.
Protect your ears from barotraumas (damage caused by changes in air pressure) by taking all necessary precautions when scuba diving.
Try not to fall constantly paying attention to safety. For example, do not stand on the highest rung of a ladder.
11) Do not attempt to clean the ears.
Many people provide ear hygiene with cotton buds. However, this tool does nothing but compact and push the ear wax deeper, with the risk of damaging sensitive skin and interfering with hearing.
Most people do not need to clean their ears because these organs require a certain amount of earwax to protect themselves and the excess is expelled naturally.
However, if you feel like you have too much ear wax, you can get rid of it with a special kit. To use it, drop a couple of drops of solution directly onto the earwax in your ears before going to bed; do this for two consecutive nights. The solution softens the wax, facilitating its natural expulsion.
12) Follow a healthy lifestyle.
If you keep healthy daily habits you can protect your hearing and keep deafness away in future years.
Exercise a lot. Cardiovascular exercises such as brisk walking, running or cycling improve blood circulation in the ears and thereby protect your hearing. You can enjoy more benefits during training in a peaceful and quiet place like a forest or a secluded beach to offer your ears a break from the hustle and daily traffic.
Stop smoking. One study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that the senile deafness rate is greater among smokers and individuals who are regularly subjected to passive smoking.
Reduce the consumption of sodium and caffeine. Both of these substances have negative effects on hearing because caffeine reduces blood flow to the ears and sodium increases water retention causing swelling in the inner ear. Switch to decaffeinated coffees and teas and reduce the use of salt in the kitchen.