Six Tips for Better Hearing in the New Year.
In the interest of quality of life, keep communication and learning alive. Don’t let the music die. How can all of that be done? Prevent hearing loss and preserve existing hearing.!.
1) Get out of denial
Hearing no longer what it used to be? Let this be the year to get out of denial. Find out the truth and get professionally tested. That’s the only way to determine if there is damage, how bad the hearing loss is and how it can be treated. Who knows? Maybe it is just wax. But, if it is truly hearing loss, the correct diagnosis and treatment can make a world of difference in terms of quality-of-life, year-round.
2) Quit the nicotine
Vaping, cigarette smoking and even second-hand smoke increase the risk for hearing loss. Nicotine starves the ears of oxygen. Yet healthy oxygen levels are important for the function and survival of the inner-ear hearing cells. Once they are damaged, these cells do not repair themselves and any resulting hearing loss is permanent.
3) Protect ears from noise on-and-off the job
Become Sound-aware! The world keeps on getting louder. Nowadays, our social and leisure activities can be just as loud—if not louder—than noisy jobs. In general industrial settings, the maximum sound level for unprotected ears is 85 decibels or dBs. Once it gets to 85 and louder, hearing protection must be used. If 85 decibels are the limit at work, the same should be true at home.
This year, invest in hearing protection. Learn how to apply it correctly. Take it into the man-caves and she-sheds and be serious about using it when working with loud machinery and power tools. Also, never leave home without it.
4) How loud is it? Get a sound meter phone app
Overall, phone apps that measure sound levels do a pretty good job at answering the question: “How noisy is this place? Yet, in order to get accurate readings, the phone app must be matched to the phone platform. And so, an iPhone needs an iPhone-compatible app; an Android needs an Android-compatible app etc.
5) Know the 60/60 rule
For those who listen a lot to MP3 players, know the 60/60 rule. Do not listen to volumes that are louder than 60% of the volume dial. At that level, we hear plenty while still keeping in the safe zone. For example: If the volume dial has 10 clicks from low to high, do not go past 6 clicks. If you ever dial up in order to get more oomph, remember to dial back down. Listen for a maximum of 60 minutes and then give the ears and brain and the body a rest.
6) Lead by example and teach the kids
Adopt some much-needed sound reduction habits. Reduce sound levels on the home entertainment center and car stereo.
Lead by example. Wear hearing protection in loud places and teach the kids and young adults how, why, when and where to protect their ears. Lawnmowers and snow and leaf blowers all too often threaten young ears. And NO, earbuds with MP3 players that are turned up to ear-numbing volumes in order to overcome the din are not hearing protection. Far from it.
In the end, don’t let the music die! Make 2020 the Year of Saving Ears and Quality of Life. It may be the best thing that we do for ourselves and for those dear to us – all year long and way beyond that.
For industry Hearing Safety Training or presentations, please see my website:
To learn about ears and hearing, please see my book on hearing loss: What Did You Say? An Unexpected Journey into the World of Hearing Loss, in its second updated edition. Sharing my story and what I had to learn the hard way.